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Baby Names and Careers

app36579712554617751 Baby Names and Careers

Baby naming has been one of the most conversed topics in my household over the past few months while awaiting our first baby's arrival. My husband and I looked through all the books, asked our friends, family, and strangers for input, picked out a few ourselves, and ultimately settled on none. This went on for months.

For me, choosing my baby's name was a big decision, something she would be attached to for the rest of her life. Screwing this up was not an option.

We couldn't seem to agree on any name until the very end. It turned into a game to suggest the most ridiculous names possible. But seriously, I hated most of his choices. My choices were, of course, all awesome.

Our decision was based on a few factors. First, we live in Argentina, but I'm from the United States and he is Argentine. Our options were endless, both in English and in Spanish. I felt it was important to choose an 'international' name, or at least something easy to pronounce in Spanish and in English, especially since our children will have tri-citizenship. My mother would kill me if she couldn't say her granddaughter's name correctly. And since our daughter will be raised in Argentina, I didn't want her to run into issues with Spanish speakers constantly pronouncing her name wrong or having to spell it out 5 times before getting it right (like being a 'Lindsay' in a Spanish-speaking country).

We decided to write out all of our name choices, even if the other didn't like it. We ended up with:

Juana Antonia
Brisa (translation: breeze)

A couple of days before her birth, we finally agreed on Julia.

So why am I telling you this story?

Laurie Ruettiman got me thinking about this again a few days ago when she brought up the baby naming topic on her blog

My One and Only video

My One and Only move

, Punk Rock HR. She asked her readers their opinions on baby names and how it affects their future career options. I'd encourage you to read the comments for some interesting insight.

I sprung many of these questions on myself during our naming process. How could our name selection influence our daughter's potential career options when she enters the workforce? Does a non-traditional or an ethnic name influence the opinions and assumptions of the evaluator? Equally qualified on paper, looked at side-by-side, one candidate named Julia and the other named Faustina or Juana Antonia, who would be called in first? Would it even be an issue?

Talk to me. Am I crazy for forbidding my husband to name our next child Viento (translation: Wind) because I fear he may be passed up for a future job opportunity by some jerk who thinks his name is too far out there?

My parents almost named me Sunshine. My mom wanted to call me Sunny for short. Luckily, someone talked them out of it, but I've always wondered if being named Sunshine would have affected my disposition.

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9 Comments - Add yours!

Lisa Atufunwa (October 30th, 2009)

Giving your child the perfect name is a big deal. Comedians tell jokes about parents who name their child after cars, food, drinks, and titles. But, a person’s name can influence their career future in my opinion. There is such a think of name discrimination (which is really weird). I remember watching a news segment on how your name can affect their future career and did an actual study on this topic. I always wonder what would had happen if my parents used my Nigerian name as my first name instead of my English name.

Anita Santiago (October 31st, 2009)

You raise some great points. I have come across many names that I could not pronounce. These were usually names with an innovative or hybrid spelling. In the African American community, there seems to be a big push to use names that reflect ethnicity. In my case, I wanted my son to have a name with meaning and purpose but was also easy to spell and pronounce. His name translates into benevolent gift from God. As he goes through life, he’ll always know that his parents believed he is truly a gift. Your article shows that care should go into picking a name for your child. It was a great article. I will also read Laurie’s post on this topic.

Carrie (October 31st, 2009)

Names definitely have an impact on a person’s career. Should it? No, definitely not. But studies (the most recent is reported here: ) have shown people with foreign names need to send in nearly twice as many resumes to obtain an interview. My mother is a teacher and she once told me about her student Princess Jewel and her brother Eternal Lord. Can you imagine the announcement if he’s made CEO of a company? “Company XYZ names Eternal Lord as its CEO.” I just don’t see that happening.

Oddly enough, I remember reading an article in the Guardian a few years ago saying that girls with more feminine names are less likely to study “masculine” subjects like math and science and thus are less likely to work in those fields. Of course, then you have to wonder if teachers tend to push the more feminine named students toward difference subjects.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, names have a huge impact on people, both on how people feel about themselves and how others treat them.

Jacob Share (November 2nd, 2009)

No, you’re not crazy. There are lots of examples of people who have managed to build a personal brand that was more memorable than they’re crazy-sounding name, but why should your own name be an obstacle in the first place?

Like most problems, they’re cheaper to solve with a little thinking ahead. A tiff with your husband is better than a daughter possibly traumatized for life.

We also had a complicated time coming up with the names for our kids. The names needed to sound nice in English, French and Hebrew (our 3 languages) while still being pronounceable for non-speakers. Each name needed to have a positive meaning. We wanted the names to be uncommon and in 2 out of 4 cases (so far… :) ), the kids are also named after a family member.

Surprisingly we never fought but there were a couple of close calls.

Stephanie Schwab (November 2nd, 2009)

I think you’re totally right! It takes a certain personality to be able to carry off a unique name (or one that doesn’t translate well), and who knows what personality your kid will have? One can always hope that they will turn out like their name (like your Sunny example), but what if you got a kid named “Sunny” who was cranky and difficult all the time? Lifetime irony.

But seriously, while I hope that unusual names or those that are obviously ethnic or foreign will, for our kids generation, be so common that they won’t lead to subconscious discrimination, I fear that it will be at least two more generations before that’s the case. We’re slow to change and accept.

Barbara Safani (November 2nd, 2009)


Today’s unique name is tomorrow’s “Top 10 Names for Babies” name. When I named my daughter Maia, no one knew anyone with the same name. 17 years later it’s a very popular name choice. By the time your baby is seeking employment, chances are good that many of the hiring managers will have interesting names as well. So go with what you love. Congratulations and enjoy!

Marly (November 6th, 2009)

Honestly, would you want your child working in some job where people were more concerned about the name than the ability/skill of the individual? I have a passion for names and have talked to people all around the US about their names. The most interesting ones are those with a great story behind the name. That’s the most important thing. Have a story about the name you choose for your baby. Best of luck to you!

3wheelerbuggy (February 23rd, 2010)

You can not believe how long ive been searching for something like this. Went through 7 pages of Google results and couldn’t find anything. One search on Bing. There you are!… Gotta start using this more often

Jaden (March 6th, 2010)

Choosing a perfect name for your baby is a big decision.
In my opinion baby’s name can have influence on their career future and in their life.Few days back i also went through all these issues but atlast i found…..
and guess what — website worked for me.

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