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Home / Art and Culture / Feminine names propagate stereotypes

Feminine names propagate stereotypes

The femininity of a girl's name plays a huge role in determining her future as sub-consciously, a stereotype is conferred.

art-and-culture Updated: May 02, 2007 12:42 IST

You may think that girls should have ‘feminine’ names, but it seems that by giving your daughter one, you may be trapping her into a mould of stereotypes that could not only end up affecting the sort of person she becomes, but also the career she takes up.

And stating this is a professor of economics at the University of Florida, who compiled a study, and discovered that the 'femininity' of a girl’s name plays a huge role in determining her future.<b1>

Professor David Figlio found that, on an average, girls who have been christened 'Isabella' or 'Anna' are not likely to study science, because their 'more feminine' first names means that they are not encouraged to do so.

He added that though there exceptions, the study still showed that people don’t tend to take girls with feminine names very seriously.

"There are plenty of exceptions, but on average people treat Isabellas differently to Alexes. Girls with feminine names were often typecast," the Daily Mail quoted him, as saying.

As a part of his study Professor Figlio's studies the names of 55,000 kids after working out the ratings for femininity based on 1,700 letter and sound combinations associated as either male or female.

He also found that kids with 'low-status' names - often unusual names - did marginally worse in exams.

As for why this happens, well it seems that teachers' expectations of kids with unusual names were consciously or sub-consciously lower.

<b2>This is the reason why parents need to be careful when choosing a name for their bundle of joy, for saddling them with a name that connotes low status could end up affecting their life and career, Prof Figlio insists.

"If you want to give your child a name that connotes low status, then you need to be aware of the consequences. In ways we are only beginning to understand, children with different names but the exact same upbringing grow up to have remarkably different life outcomes," he said.

He also found that names like Grace, Abigail and Alex were considered to be the least ‘feminine’.

Prof Figlio's study is to be published in the Journal of Human Resources.

Popular names and their femininity rating, as per Prof Figlio are:

Isabella 1.21 (the most feminine)
Anna 1.04
Elizabeth 1.02
Emma 0.97
Jessica 0.93
Samantha 0.83
Sarah 0.78
Olivia 0.74
Hannah 0.70
Emily 0.68
Lauren 0.66
Ashley 0.63
Grace 0.50
Abigail 0.48
Alex 0.28
ht epaper

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