Will giving your daughter a masculine name – as Heidi Klum and Seal did with their newborn daughter Lou – increase her odds for career success?
It might if she goes into the legal profession, according to a new study. Women with masculine names make more money as lawyers than those with feminine names and are more likely to be appointed to judgeships, say researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina.
Not only that, but the more masculine the name, the better. A woman named Kelly has a five percent greater chance of becoming a judge than a Sue, while Cameron’s odds are tripled and a female Bruce’s are quintupled.
The researchers rated each name’s masculinity by comparing the number of females versus males with that name in the state. They also controlled for income and class, given that masculine-sounding names are more often used for girls in South Carolina by upper class parents.
Even given the controls, female lawyers with masculine names earned more money and rose to judgeships more often than their counterparts named Melissa and Amanda.
Does this mean that parents mindful of their daughters’ future career success should choose more masculine names? Yes and no. Remember, this is the legal profession in the south we’re talking about -- in other words, a conservative milieu – and female lawyers who rose through the career ranks in a comparatively more sexist time. More expansive views of women in decades to come will undoubtedly help girls named Emma gain credibility as easily as those named Emerson.
But the author of the study was reportedly so swayed by the results that he named his own baby daughter Collins.
In case you’re of similar mind, feminine names with masculine nicknames do the trick: Samantha to Sam or Ashley to Ash, for example.