For Academic Women Who Marry, Name Change Can Be Problematic

Today in the United States, about 80 percent of all women who get married take their husband’s last name. But in the academic world, the practice is far less common. A 2019 survey found that 57 percent of women with a Ph.D. changed their name when they married. In 1980, about half of all women with a Ph.D. changed their last name when they got married.

Bala Chaudhary, an assistant professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth, notes in a recent commentary that for a researcher who is published in academic journals, a marital name change may make it difficult for others to find their work. “Currently, there is no consistent way for a researcher to update their publication record to reflect a name change due to a marriage or divorce,” Dr. Chaudhary wrote. “This can be especially problematic when a researcher applies for grants or tenure, as a reviewer may conclude that the researcher has not done enough work in the field, when they may not have been evaluating the entire record.”

“The stakes are high as relationship status and name discrimination contribute to gender and racial inequities in faculty hiring,” Dr. Chaudhry adds.

Dr. Chaudhary proposes adopting a centralized system to dynamically and retroactively streamline name change across publications, as well as incorporating conversations around marital name change into mentor training for those who advise students. “Deciding whether to change your name with marriage is a common conversation that women scientists are having with each other and it’s important to get this on everyone’s radar,” Dr. Chaudhary said.

Dr. Chaudhry, a soil ecologist, is a graduate of the University of Chicago. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Northern Arizona University.

The commentary “A Scientist by Any Other Name,” was published in the journal Nature Microbiology. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply