Post # 1
I’ve been really stressed out lately about my name change. I am a university researcher/teacher and work in an academic setting, so my plan after getting married was to change my last name to my husband’s, but still use my maiden name professionally (because I’ve published under my maiden name, have my degrees in that name, etc).
That seemed fine at first, but now I’m running into more and more problems. I have to change my last name in the university system for payroll/tax info to be correct, but that mean’s they’ll also change EVERYTHING in the system to my legal name – email, directories, future degree, listings as class instructor, etc. There’s a “preferred name” option in the system, but it only shows up in limited places. It would be one thing if I was going to be at the same university, I could probably get it worked out eventually, but I’ll likely be going through lots of other universities in the next few years (through the post-doc to faculty phase) as well as things like applying for grants and doing lots of work-related travel through university departments. The thought of having to deal with this legal vs. preferred name stuff over and over again seems like it will be a big issue.
My husband was good about letting me think over my name change initiallly, but I know he wanted me to change it – badly. Whenever I’d try to talk to him about name-change options, or how complicated it might be to have his name legally but my maiden name professionaly, he’d get upset or refust to say anything at all. I’ve changed my passport and SS so far, but now I’m wondering if I should change back to my maiden name. Every time I even mention to my busband how frustrating dealing with university-related changes are, he gets upset with me. I just want to talk things over with him, but it seems impossible.
So…any advice? Should I go through with the name change on everything else, or change it back? Has anyone kept their maiden name for an academic position like this, while still changing their last name legally? Is it as hard as I think it will be, or am I imagining it to be more complicated than it really is?
Post # 2
That is a tough one. I think it is really up to you and what you two can live with. I know that isn’t helpful at all. I too am published, have degrees and professional accreditations under my name. My Fiance is now complety fine with me keeping my own name. He debated a little bit with me at first so I said ok, why don’t you take my name? He said no and then said it wasn’t fair to ask me to give up part of my identity And he understood better.
Can you be socially known by his last name? Will he take your last name? Is hyphenation an option? Does he understand that your name is tied to all your research and that’s very important in academia? Maybe instead of saying the university is being a pain (which they totally are with stuff like this) maybe express to him how important it is to you and why as well as what the implications might be for you. I feel like he should be understanding and respectful of that. I do understand the name change is a sensitive issue though.
Post # 3
Thanks for your reply. My husband fully understands that keeping my name is important for academic purposes because he’s also in academia (we’re in similar programs, actually – more reason to keep using my maiden name so our work doesn’t get confused!). I’m also fine with using his name socially, but not a huge fan of hyphenation just because I think our names sound silly if hyphenated.
At this point I think I just regret legally changing my name. In browsing other posts, I’ve come across people who have done what I’m doing now (legally changed but maiden used professionally) and most strongly advise against it. Maybe I should have just left everything in my maiden name and used his name socially?
You’re right though that we really just need to sit down and talk about it. I’ll try that and see how it goes!
Post # 4
I am an academic and I did exactly what you’re describing! It was a little different for me, because I actually really wanted to change my name but Darling Husband didn’t care at all, lol. But yeah, at first it was a ton of work and red tape. But a year in, it’s all resolved and no big deal that some HR stuff has a different name on it. I am not worried about changing jobs at all, as my CV and publications will be consistent.
Post # 5
Sounds like a great plan to have a good talk about it. That is awesome that he is in a similar field so he knows how important it is to be able to have your name tied to your research.
The whole name change thing is such a sensitive issue. When I told people I was keeping my name, I got crazy responses. People saying I was already planning for a divorce or that I wasn’t committed to our marriage. A woman I work with actually gasped when I said I was keeping my name. One told me I didn’t deserve to get married if I wouldn’t take his name.
I think if you regret changing your name then you shouldn’t feel bad about changing it back, probably wouldn’t tell him you regret it though. It is your name after all but it is a big decision and I think many people struggle with it. As mentioned, I think your plan of talking to him is a great one and I hope it goes well. I’m sure he will be understanding. Good luck!
Post # 6
alpenglow89: This is part of why I kept my maiden name also. I’m an academic and got married as a postdoc, and couldn’t even face the complexity of a dual identity at one institution, let alone several once I hit the job market a year later. And also, I just didn’t wanna. But several of my friends have taken your approach and not had nearly this level of difficulty. How frustrating that must be!
The best thing you can do is talk to your husband, because it sounds like maybe his feelings on the matter are the biggest driving reason why you would go through any of this. I would think that as a fellow academic, he would understand the frustration of all of the HR red tape crap. It sounds like this is a very sensitive subject for him, though, so tread carefully and don’t say anything about your feelings of regret. Make it all about the fools at your university’s HR department and how they’ve opened your eyes to a lifetime of hassles.
Delta18: Whaaaat. I can’t believe some of those responses! Everyone has been really nice to me about it. When I had jobs in the South, I was definitely the lone wolf because every other married woman had changed her name in one way or another. Now that I live further north, it’s actually pretty unusual to find an academic using her married name.
Post # 7
alpenglow89: Hello, Hello. I have all the degrees up to PhD in my maiden name. I have approximately 30 research publications, 3 patents, and a laundry list of research presentations in my maiden name. Everyone I work with also kept their maiden name. It is very common and well received in academia and research to keep your maiden name, especially as more women break down the stereotypes and pioneer the way. It’s almost like your brand name. In fact, I have only one friend who hypenated her name (maiden-his last name) for one year to get people used to the transition and then she took his last name exclusively.
And the kicker: If a professional working man had to deal with all the forms and bs, you can bet the name-change process would be more efficient. He would not spend entire afternoons in line at the social security office, the DMV, and run around to all the banks, etc. to make these changes.
<br />I legally have my maiden name everywhere. There is no confusion. Parent, in-laws, and some friends address holiday cards to Mr & Mrs (instead of MR & Dr) but oh well.
Good luck with the decision.
Post # 8
Here’s a possible compromise: i told my husband (who really didn’t care either way) that i’d be keeping my name for now, but might change it if/when we have kids so that i can have the same last name as my kids.
Post # 9
To be honest, it sound like you want to keep your maiden name, but your husband wants you to change. It sounds to me like he is pressurising you into changing, but not acknowledging the (very real) problems that you will encounter.
I don’t think that the real issue here is the name change in itself, but your husband’s unwillingness to talk things through with you, communicate and to put aside his own preferences in favour of yours. I would probably feel very angry with him if I was in your situation: after all, this is YOUR name and your identity!
Post # 10
What if you use your maiden name professionally and legally, and use his name socially?
I don’t really understand the point of going through all the work to change it legally if you’re not always going to use that name.
ETA: Sorry, I missed that you already legally changed your name.
Post # 11
I have always thought the change-your-name-officially-but-keep-your-maiden-name-for-work thing was a bit too complicated, at least for me. If I’m changing my name, I’m going to go whole hog (same if I’m keeping it)!
I am also a researcher at a university, with degrees and publications in my name, etc., so I know where you’re coming from (just for background).
I think you should just ask yourself what you want to do — don’t let your husband’s wishes on this one cloud your thinking, nor any other details. I think you will find you’re leaning one way or another, and when you realize that, just go with it. Whether it’s changing your name or keeping it, it will be ok.
Post # 12
It really sucks that he’s pressuring you. If YOU really want to stick with the name change, then I think going all the way, and just listing your maiden name/publications and degrees in that name on your CV should mostly be fine, depending how far along in your career you are. The one downside is a search committee may miss some of your publications but unless you have some really important papers out that wouldn’t be attached to your name (Science, Nature, Cell, etc) I don’t think it would be that big a deal since they will be listed on your CV anyway.
I agree the bigger issue is your husband seems to be pressuring you and it seems to be such a sensitive issue he can’t even calmly discuss it with you which isn’t really fair. As a PP said, try asking him about changing his name and see if that helps him undertand.
Post # 13
I am going to face this problem as well. As a current PhD student I am already worried about my papers and previous degrees! I think I will end up keeping my maiden name legally for all things, but socially be called whatever people want to call me. I would want to legally have it be FirstName MaidenName LastName (No hyphen) but now that you’re saying it’ll change all of that stuff it seems like too much confusion.
Post # 14
I’m not in academia, but I am a professional and faced some similar issues relating to degrees/ professional registrations. I opted to hyphenate across the board so that there was the ability to “follow” things in my maiden name (so Jane Doe, now Jane Doe-Smith). I also had some friends in the same field who attempted to keep one name professionally and another personally and ran into a myriad of issues where ID documents didn’t match membership cards etc. So annoying! Good luck though and try not to get pushed into something you’re not sure about – you have lots of time to make changes should you choose. I know too many women who look back and regret thier decisions because they felt pressured to do them quickly after the wedding.
Post # 15
alpenglow89: I also work in research, but luckily have a horrible IT department which has never changed my email address. All paperwork is under my married name, but all correspondence is under my maiden name. It has worked seemlessly– the public knows me by my maiden name and only my bosses and those who travel with me know I changed my name.
My presentations and publications are under my maiden name. Journal publishers don’t care (I have discussed this with them at length after them seeing my work ID with a totally different name on it). I regularly have collegues publish under their maiden name with no problem.
I work for a big organization and have made it work (there is lots of red tape, but I had a very strong reason for needing to keep my maiden name so it was worth doing it). If you aren’t able to make the strong case, then what I would do is go by three names. First Maiden Married. Lots of researchers I work with do that and it has never been a problem. I work with top researchers– when they add a name we still know who they are and it hasn’t hurt them one bit.
The way to do this is to have your first name be filled as First Maiden. That way it will always be there. If that isn’t an option (it isn’t in my office), then people learn to adapt. Seriously, people still know who my boss is even though the system makes her appear under her married name and she has only ever published under First Maiden Married. She just makes sure the press and official bios go by her three names.
The only time my name has been an issue was when I was applying for a new job and they were doing reference checks. They called people and asked about me using my married name and each of my references (who were expecting the call) blanked on who I was. So next time I will prep them better.