Names - how much does it matter in the science&math fields?

  • Thread starter 01019505
  • Start date
  • #1
01019505
I am hoping for a name change soon, but I am considering the career implications for changing my name. The name I am planning on doesn't match my race, but California (where I live) is a melting pot and there are white Lopez and Martinez and Asian Masons. People will know that I changed my name anyway thanks to my college records, so it's not like I am trying to pass as being born with my new name. In the engineering field, would people even care as long as I have good credentials and do the job right? I realized that science and math has a lot of ethnic people (even foreigners) and different names in it, so I am assuming that the science/math employers aren't like the others who look at a resume, see a non-Anglo Saxon name, and then throw it in the trash.

There were a lot of opinions on my potential name. Some think it's realistic (it pops up several times on Spokeo so it can't be too fake), interesting, elegant, and professional. Others think it's "too ethnic", trashy, ghetto (these were white opinions of course), and fake sounding. But, will the science and math people care? I don't give a hoot what cubicle monkeys think.

Am I wrong here or are science/math/engineer people just as prejudiced and shallow as others?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
223
10
We have a saying that the name doesn't ruin the man. You could, by all means, have been named George Ruthless Savage. Why is it so important to change your name? If you imply prejudice, are you too prejudiced towards yourself because of what ever your name may be?

Whatever work you decide to do, your name doesn't do the work - you do.

..although I might be in for a cultural shock.
 
  • #3
tiny-tim
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
25,832
251
hi 01019505! welcome to pf! :smile:
The name I am planning on doesn't match my race …

… Others think it's "too ethnic", trashy, ghetto (these were white opinions of course), and fake sounding …
what does it match then?

you haven't given us any positive reason for changing to it, so how can we advise? :confused:

(if you've chosen a name from World of Warcraft, then yes even science/math/engineer people are prejudiced against people who think they come from cyberspace)
 
  • #4
01019505
I am changing my name for personal reasons, it's extremely common (so it's not very distinguished), and I don't use it anyway. I wish I can choose a surname from my own ethnicity but then surnames mean a lot to my ethnicity so it would be really weird and insulting to them.

I am hoping to adopt a common Hispanic name and a neutral surname that's common among whites, blacks, and some Hispanics. I live in California, and all sorts of people seem to work in the science/engineering industries here so I doubt that I can be "too ethnic". I was told my potential name sounds like a stage name or 'made up' however, but there are 50 other people across the US with the exact name/surname combination so it's not "out there" or anything. Why should science/engineer people give a hoot if my name sounds 'made up' as long as it's plausible and I have good credentials? I don't think it's a name that will make people look twice.
 
  • #5
Evo
Mentor
23,172
2,913
Although it's ultimately up to you, if everyone is telling you that the new name sounds bad, you may want to listen to them. Since we have no idea what your name is now or what you wish to change it to, there is really no advice we can give.

It sounds to me that you have a bit of an identity issue, have you spoken to a psychologist about this? You might want to get some professional help before you do something this drastic and for what seems to be without a serious reason (going by what you posted, you think your name now is too plain and common).

And opinions of the name change has nothing to do with occupations, so I don't really know why you even brought that up.
 
Last edited:
  • #6
01019505
Most people like it but the opinions are on polar ends. People either think it's down to earth and realistic, or they think it's trashy or fake.
It's not a bad name, just sort of stagey according to some people. It would be acceptable for the creative type, but not in business or finances. I was wondering if the science and engineering fields had as much of a glass ceiling thing going on with having the 'right' name despite credentials. Want me to PM you?

I've spoken to therapists about my reasons to change the name, but never told them the name I was considering. I am meeting one next week.
 
  • #7
130
13
Your intended name must be better than "01019505" (hopefully) :tongue:
Why care so much about other people? I say go for it!
One day I will change my name to Vegeta...
 
Last edited:
  • #8
phion
Gold Member
175
39
You should change it to your favorite YouTube address identifier.
 
  • #9
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,887
616
I am hoping for a name change soon, but I am considering the career implications for changing my name. The name I am planning on doesn't match my race, but California (where I live) is a melting pot and there are white Lopez and Martinez and Asian Masons. People will know that I changed my name anyway thanks to my college records, so it's not like I am trying to pass as being born with my new name. In the engineering field, would people even care as long as I have good credentials and do the job right? I realized that science and math has a lot of ethnic people (even foreigners) and different names in it, so I am assuming that the science/math employers aren't like the others who look at a resume, see a non-Anglo Saxon name, and then throw it in the trash.

There were a lot of opinions on my potential name. Some think it's realistic (it pops up several times on Spokeo so it can't be too fake), interesting, elegant, and professional. Others think it's "too ethnic", trashy, ghetto (these were white opinions of course), and fake sounding. But, will the science and math people care? I don't give a hoot what cubicle monkeys think.

Am I wrong here or are science/math/engineer people just as prejudiced and shallow as others?
Regarding bolded text: I have a friend who switched from female to male. He directed his alma mater to change the name on his college records, even though he had graduated years before. They complied without trouble. You may be able to do the same thing.

I wish I could tell you there is no weight given to a name when it comes to hiring. But research shows otherwise:

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2003/resume.html
http://www.chicagobooth.edu/pdf/bertrand.pdf

You'll have to pore over the research to determine if your assumption is correct (that this doesn't happen in STEM fields).
 
  • #10
AlephZero
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
6,994
292
As a Brit, the ethnic bias in their "white" family names is striking:
Family names used for white applicants were Baker, Kelly, McCarthy, Murphy, Murray, O'Brien, Ryan, Sullivan and
Walsh.
All Irish, except for Baker!
 
  • #11
Evo
Mentor
23,172
2,913
Regarding bolded text: I have a friend who switched from female to male. He directed his alma mater to change the name on his college records, even though he had graduated years before. They complied without trouble. You may be able to do the same thing.

I wish I could tell you there is no weight given to a name when it comes to hiring. But research shows otherwise:

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2003/resume.html
http://www.chicagobooth.edu/pdf/bertrand.pdf

You'll have to pore over the research to determine if your assumption is correct (that this doesn't happen in STEM fields).
Maybe it was also male vs female. I've read that young females are less desirable due to becoming pregnant, having kids and missing more work to take care of kids.

I'd like to see how Tyrone did against Brendan.
 
  • #12
51
0
My personal advice: don't waste your time worrying what other people think about you. Honestly, an individual who judges someone on the basis of something as arbitrary as a name, really isn't worth consideration. Also, I could be wrong, but I tend to believe that prejudice isn't as rampant in the sciences. Of course, even if it is, why would enable bigoted individuals by changing some aspect of yourself/identity to please them? Your life shouldn't be about justifying yourself to others.
 
  • #13
Chronos
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,408
741
A rose is a rose by any other name ... You will still be you no matter what label you choose, and always judged in terms of your deeds.
 
  • #14
01019505
Even if my alma mater changes the name on my documents, I will have professors and internships that know me under my old name and will refer to me as such during references. My purpose isn't to hide my birth name.

I know that names and your presentation can make or break you in fields where image matters such as business and sales, but I always had the impression that STEM fields give less crap about what your "image" and more about what you can do.
A middle-aged black female scientist who came in for a seminar at our Chem club. She sounded bitter when she referred to her gender, race, and how her androgynous name probably helped her get hired before her employers knew that she was black and female. Damn. So yeah I am sure that names still influence your opportunities, just by how much though in STEM?

I am changing my name for deeply personal reasons, but choosing a new name is what's difficult. If I shouldn't care what others think, then I should just go ahead and change my name.

According to people on the board it seems that names don't matter, but I hope this isn't similar to the case of the very people who claim "your race and gender doesn't matter, your work does" being the ones who subconsciously decide that someone is more competent because they're white and male.
 
  • #15
51
0
Well, if your desire is to have a new name for yourself, then I say go for it. But I still wouldn't choose a specific name based on other people's opinions. Also, I can't speak towards discrimination against non-whites or non males, as I am both. However, if someone didn't respect me for my work, I wouldn't want to work with them anyways. In my case, if I found out I got a job because I was white/male I would be infuriated.
 
  • #16
01019505
There's a name I really like, it suits my needs. Names aren't clothes you can change by whim, so I do care how it would affect my future prospects.

"I could be wrong, but I tend to believe that prejudice isn't as rampant in the sciences."

yeah it's pretty hard to see it if it's not directed at you.

"why would enable bigoted individuals by changing some aspect of yourself/identity to please them?"

Alright, I don't want to go there but, that's white man logic/privilege. There's a reason why the Jews changed their names when they arrived from Europe during WWII, and it worked pretty well for them because people hated Jews back then. My question was whether the STEM fields were as bigoted as other fields (and as a white man you're not the most reliable for that answer). I would love to hear the "screw the rules! don't care what others think! do whatever you want!" advice from someone who's non-white or female instead.

From what I know, MIT & Caltech are at least half Asian/Indian. I don't know about the actual work force though.
 
  • #17
538
148
I would offer a response, but I'm stuck with my white-man logic, so I'll just have to back away from the thread. By the way, sorry for oppressing you so much.

Actually, I can't resist - you sound like an idiot, and frankly you're playing your race card way too hard. If I get banned for posting that, then I don't want to be a part of this forum anymore, because you're seriously deluded if you think a white person can't have an opinion about a racial matter. You honestly sound like the bigot here, far more than the people you're so worried about.
 
  • #18
Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,979
2,322
There's a name I really like, it suits my needs. Names aren't clothes you can change by whim, so I do care how it would affect my future prospects.

"I could be wrong, but I tend to believe that prejudice isn't as rampant in the sciences."

yeah it's pretty hard to see it if it's not directed at you.

"why would enable bigoted individuals by changing some aspect of yourself/identity to please them?"

Alright, I don't want to go there but, that's white man logic/privilege. There's a reason why the Jews changed their names when they arrived from Europe during WWII, and it worked pretty well for them because people hated Jews back then. My question was whether the STEM fields were as bigoted as other fields (and as a white man you're not the most reliable for that answer). I would love to hear the "screw the rules! don't care what others think! do whatever you want!" advice from someone who's non-white or female instead.

From what I know, MIT & Caltech are at least half Asian/Indian. I don't know about the actual work force though.
I'm puzzled by the discussion based on gender, ethnicity or race. I've worked with individuals from all over the world, and their family name and origin (and gender, ethnicity or race) are irrelevant. All I care about is their experience and capability. On the other hand, I have seen faculty members (including one department head) express biases based on gender, ethnic or racial background. There is no place for that in any social system.
 
  • #19
01019505
"I would offer a response, but I'm stuck with my white-man logic, so I'll just have to back away from the thread. By the way, sorry for oppressing you so much. Actually, I can't resist - you sound like an idiot, and frankly you're playing your race card way too hard."

Calm down. No need to take it personally and I never mentioned what race I am lol, just that the name I want is not Anglo and doesn't look like me.

"you're seriously deluded if you think a white person can't have an opinion about a racial matter"

Of course anyone can have an opinion. stardust isn't stupid for his opinion but I won't weigh it as heavily as someone who gets impacted by potential consequences the most. It's like a black girl trying to explain what a white guy should do to get what he needs, take it with a grain of salt.

"On the other hand, I have seen faculty members (including one department head) express biases based on gender, ethnic or racial background. There is no place for that in any social system."

There's always going to be that one bad apple no matter what field you go into, but it's not like it influences people's career prospects that much does it? I don't think STEM fields give a crap about silly stuff like names as much, but who is NOT going to look twice if the name on the resume was "Jim Bob Jones" instead of the more realistic "Greg Bernhardt"?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #20
Evo
Mentor
23,172
2,913
0101, please use the "quote" button when you wish to reply to a post, if there is more than one post, use the "M" button for multi-quote, your posts is confusing without proper quotations.

This thread is not becoming repetitive is is not progressing. Closed.
 

Related Threads on Names - how much does it matter in the science&math fields?

Replies
18
Views
2K
Replies
7
Views
3K
Replies
10
Views
829
  • Last Post
Replies
18
Views
3K
Replies
10
Views
24K
  • Last Post
10
Replies
235
Views
31K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
10K
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
16
Views
2K
Top