Should I change my surname?

Kristen M Timms ktimms at
Wed Feb 8 17:04:10 EST 1995

In article <3h6u42$ves at>, dmerriam at (Deborah Merriam) writes:
|> Hello all, 
|> I am getting married this coming summer, and I'm trying to decide whether
|> to keep by birth name as-is or take my beloved's surname.  I am currently
|> working toward my M.Sc. (and hopefully my Ph.D.) in Experimental Medicine,
|> and I'm extremely fortunate to have a publication to my credit already
|> from my undergraduate research in a related field of lipid biochemistry.
|> My fiance is finishing up his M.A. in Sociology - so people assuming that
|> I'm actually his research assistant because we work in the same field
|> won't be a problem for me (a concern that one of my mentors in my
|> department brought up when I asked for her advice). My dilemma is more
|> straightforward: will changing my surname, now that I have published under
|> my "maiden" name, affect the way that my publication record is viewed down
|> the road? Are there other ways in which a change of surname can affect my
|> career? 
|> As I see it, my options are:
|> 1 - keep my current surname for all purposes
|> 2 - change my surname to coincide with my beloved's (and keep my maiden
|> name as a new middle name, if I choose)
|> 3 - keep my name for business purposes, and use his for personal purposes
|> 4 - hyphenate (an excellent idea except that our surnames sound hideous
|> together ;-)
|> 5 - have *him* take *my* surname (but he has some publications, too)
|> 6 - make up our own surname (cute idea, but completely impractical)
|> Thanks in advance for your advice. This is a wonderful newsgroup!
|> Deborah Merriam
|> dmerriam at
I got married on Jan 20 - about three weeks ago. For me this decision was
very easy with the only possible option being #1. I couldn't imagine any
reason for me to want to change my name, and I could think of a lot of
reasons why I should not change it. My family were very supportive of this -
in fact I think they would of had more difficulty with the idea of me
changing my name. My husbands family have been far less impressed - and we
have even received letters addressed to Mr and Mrs Craig Pierson - blerk!
Talk about loosing your identity. I also have a number of publications under
my "maiden" name - but for me this is not the major reason why I haven't
changed my name - tho' it has given me an excuse when being grilled by the
in-laws. I think ultimately this decision can only be yours - you have to
choose the solution that you feel most comfortable with - afterall you're the
one that has to live with the decision. If you choose to keep your own name
and also have children then I guess you should also face the possibility that
the same problem is going to arise again in the future. For my part I'm a
firm believer in the idea that the woman who does the work should get the
credit - so I can imagine the howls of protest that my in-laws are going to
make if I ever introduce them to their grand-child Junior _Timms_.

Whatever decision you make I don't think it will
have any real impact on your professional life. For me it was
more about how I identified with myself than any possible effect on my
career. Really I guess the only answer to the question is that you are 
the only person who knows the answer.

Anyway, congratulations on your marriage.

Kirsten Timms.

More information about the Womenbio mailing list