marriage and name-changing

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at cco.caltech.edu
Wed Sep 3 14:03:54 EST 1997


In article <340D95AD.6A3F at texas.net>, Susan Laredo <nospam at texas.net> wrote:

> Haven't seen any debates about name-changing in quite a while.
> I'm planning a (U.S.) wedding in the spring.  I always assumed that I 
> *wouldn't* change my last name, but now I'm giving at least a little
> consideration.  One other idea that came up was to continue to use
> my current name professionally and a married name socially.  While the
> idea of two identities has some appeal, it seems like a paperwork
> nightmare.  
> I also thought of using Firstname M. Lastname Newlastname because I
> don't really want to be hyphenated.
> 
> Anyone care to comment on their experiences?

I'm getting married on Sept. 13th (less than two weeks away!  yikes!)  For
me, there has never been any question that I would keep my name.  It's
something I've felt strongly about since I was about 8 or 9.  Now that I
have some publications under my own name, I have a professional "excuse"
for keeping it that even the family seems to accept.  

I'm sort of curious, what is appealing about having two identities?  The
"paperwork nightmare" aspect of it seems much more likely to me.  I
remember being told by some well-meaning family member at one time that
changing my name would be "easier."  The only response I could think of
was "easier for whom?"

Although I firmly believe that this is one's own decision, I've only heard
of a few reasons in favor of changing that made any sense to me
personally:  among them, hating one's birth name (especially after having
been made fun of in school repeatedly for having it), and wanting to show
support for one's husband in a very difficult family situation (that was
actually brought up on this group a couple of years ago--you might want to
check out the discussion on deja news).

One thing you might want to consider as a woman in bio is how many other
people publishing in your field have your name or your husband's name.  A
(male) friend of mine with a very common Asian last name changed the
spelling of his name so that he would have a chance of finding his
publications in medline or other databases (a search on his name-old
spelling plus first initial yielded over a thousand entries).    

In my mind, it's really hard to even imagine having a different name than
I've had for the past 31 years.  The mental gymnastics and "paradigm
shift" involved in having a different name, for me, would be very
uncomfortable. 

Karen Allendoerfer



More information about the Womenbio mailing list