Could taking your husband's name lower your salary?

19 April 2010

Brides-to-be should think twice before taking their husband’s surnames – it could seriously lower their salary and change the way other people perceive them.  And let’s not even go into double-barrelling…

Researchers at the Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics asked participants to evaluate a hypothetical woman on a range of personality traits – introducing some by her maiden name, others by married name, and a third group by a double-barreled combo. Results varied widely…

Women who gave up their family name were seen as more ‘stereotypically feminine’. On the plus side ‘more caring’ but also ‘more dependent, less intelligent, more emotional, less competent and less ambitious.’ Not exactly flattering… When did ‘feminine’ become a criticism?  

‘This is the first demonstration that different surnames can affect the strength of the activation of female stereotypes’ said a spokesperson, ‘Regardless of the individual qualities of the woman walking down the aisle, the way she will be judged may be determined by the name she chooses after saying 'I do.'’

So how does this affect the size of a married woman’s pay packet?

In the final part of the study, the participants were asked to pretend they were recruiters and judge the woman as a prospective employee. So how did the wife who took her partner's name fare?

Compared to her maiden-named counterpart, she was less likely to be hired and her salary was considerably lower - $1,172.36 lower on average.

What’s in a name? A grand a year apparently…

By Amy Molloy


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