Post # 1
I know that this is just another of several posts regarding the decision to change your name. But I want to hear people’s thoughts on my issues. I had pretty much decided to do it in exchange for giving our kids Indian first names. But now I’m having second thoughts. Fiance, By The Way, says he’d love it if I changed my name but he understands if I don’t want to. It is important to me to have a family name b/c it’s a lot easier for kids when we have them.
So my issues are kind of two-fold. One is professional. I’m a research scientist and so all of my work until this point is attached to my maiden name. I’ve been told that you can link your publication record to your maiden name in the main search DB everyone uses…but it doesn’t really solve the problem. I’m in a weird stage where some people have met me and know my name, but aren’t that familiar with my publications. They might not make the connection if they saw new work by me. And vice-versa, some people know only my publications. I really do feel this would impact my career…esp. b/c I’m about to take a yearlong break from research right after getting married. It’s also not easy to legally change my name and use my maiden name professionally. I travel a lot for work, often with other people making arrangements, so it would get really complicated fast.
The other is identity. I have a very Indian name (actually kind of common in India, and my last name also identifies our historic clan identity). A lot about it really suits my personality. I like the sound of my first and last name together. And many of my college friends even call me by my last name. So I’m just feeling all of a sudden like I’m giving something up…and I’m freaking out as the time gets closer I guess, b/c it’s so permanent…I can’t reclaim my identity after I’ve done it.
FWIW, my plan was to make my maiden name my middle name since I don’t have one. It doesn’t really solve the professional problem b/c we generally us initals plus last name.
Post # 3
You make a lot of valid points. I think the decision to change your name when you get married is a very imporant and personal one. I am taking my FI’s last name for a few reasons. When we have children, it is important to me that we all have the same last name. Another factor is that taking his last name won’t really affect me professionally. If it would, I would definitely give changing my name some more serious thought. The final reason…is that well, I guess I just want to 🙂 I’m excited about having a new last name…in some ways it feels like a fresh start to me…another chance to literally make a new name for myself…might be a little cheesy, but that’s how I feel 🙂 My only hesitation is that when I change my last name, the only other person that will have my current last name is my mom. I have no brothers, or male cousins or uncles with my current last name…so our last name will end with us. That definitely makes me a little sad, but I’ve come to terms with it. I would definitely ike to add that I completely understand and respect a woman’s decision to keep her own last name. Like I said, everyone has their own reasons…and it’s a great thing that we can all make a decision that works for us. Good luck with your decision!!
Post # 4
I understand that you want your children to have the same name as you, but it sounds like it’s so complicated to change it at this point. I would have to agree that it would make things difficult career-wise and I feel the same way about identity. My first and last names fit together perfectly and I can’t imagine giving that up. But maybe you could hyphenate, so that your maiden name is still a part of your last name and you’ll be able to identify with that as well as your fiance’s name… and then when it comes to have kids, you’ll still share a commonality with them!
Post # 5
The two issues I see are:
1) personal identity: you like your name, your friends call you by your last name, it ties you to your ethnic identity
2) professional identity: changing your name might confuse people and hurt your career
In my heart I knew I wanted to be First HisLast, but I wasn’t sure how to get there either, like you are feeling. I dealt with this issue by having a transition name for myself. I changed legally to First Middle Maiden Hislast, and at work and on email I signed myself as First Maiden HisLast for about 6 months. Then I switched to First HisLast. I figured it gave everyone a chance to see my new names together and get the idea. And like you said, you can link up your names in the search databases.
After you’re married, you don’t have to change right away (or ever). Also, if you’re taking a year-long break from publication, you’ll have a whole year to try on a new name for size. Loads of people are going to call you Mrs. Hisname anyway, so you’ll be able to see how that feels. Take it slow, try on some intermediate names for size, and see which way you sway.
Post # 6
I’ve thought about hyphenating. One issue is, he already has an apostrophe in his name which wreaks havoc with computer systems (very Irish name). He was joking the other day about how much fun I’ll have with a hyphen and an apostrophe in my last name!
One thing in my favor is I have a couple publications in the works that won’t be published until after we get married. If I use my married name for those, it will give some continuity. But I seriously freak when I imagine those papers with a different last name on it. I think I need to write out my married name a few times and see how I react to it 🙂
Edit…oooh, I like the intermediate name idea. I’ll have to give that some thought also.
Post # 7
As a fellow scientist, I wish this issue was discussed further in our circles!
I understand where you come from, and what I have decided on doing, and what both my mother and grandmothers have done, is to simply keep my maiden name. I find that being recognized for your work is extremely important and I love that I can trace the history of the women in my family. In your case, I suppose it would depend on how long you have been publishing as well.
I think that it is also more of a cultural issue; especially in this country. It’s really great that your Fiance is supportive, you’re lucky in this aspect 🙂
Thing is, it’s only a name in the end, and I do not mind taking my FI’s name socially only. My future children will take his name, but that has never been an issue for me either.
I think you should talk to the women in your family, see what they think! It also doesn’t hurt to check out what other countries’ traditions are. I found that my own reason for changing became less and less convincing after that.
Good luck with your decision! It is so personal!
Post # 8
@fizics – I am right there beside you. I am also a research scientist and have published for many (almost 10!) years under my maiden name. I am Korean and very proud of my heritage and geneology. It, indeed, is a struggle when it comes to our identity (cultural and professional). My Fiance is completely fine with me not changing my name, but I really want that other "identity" of us being a family AND I want the same last name as my children!
I don’t think hyphenating it does anything for me. It’s still a different last name from my professional OR my new family-to-be. Further, in terms of publications, the scientific society is long away from acknowledging (and connecting) the maiden name with the new last name. Just try searching for any one you know who’s published under two last names – it just doesn’t work.
So, I’m almost close to deciding on the following:
Keep my maiden name for publications. Legally change it to my FI’s. Nonetheless, keep my Maiden as my second middle name. I do have a middle name (my Korean name) that I want to keep…again, it’s still a part of my identity! I grew up first 12-13 years of my life under that name…I don’t want to erase it…
Post # 9
Could you delay the name change until your kids are actually born? I think I remember seeing on the baby threads that you guys were planning on waiting a bit, so maybe that could give you time to ease the transition. Maybe you could keep publishing under your maiden name, but introduce yourself to colleagues or speak at conferences (I don’t know if you do this, just throwing it out there) as First Maiden Hislast? Or you could do a legal change to his now and hyphenate professionally, does that make sense? Say you are FizicsGirl Indianname and right now you are known on publications as Dr. F. Indianname. Then you become FizicsGirl O’Malley (I’m pulling an Irish name out of a hat, I hope I didn’t weirdly hit on the actual one somehow — if I did it’s pure coincidence)… you could legally be FizicsGirl Indianname O’Malley and just kind of add in the hyphen on publications — Dr. F. Indianname-O’Malley? Does that make sense?
Hope this helps — my last name was only somewhat ethnic and I switched to one that reflects another side of my heritage so I can’t say I totally relate, but "losing" your last name is hard!
Post # 10
It’s good to think that you can start out publishing two articles pretty soon with your married name!
It sounds like a lot of the other readers have given you good advice on the scientific front, but I just want to say that I really understand the struggle to make a decision. Ultimately, I changed my name because I wanted to have a family name for future children, and also just for the two of us. Honestly, and secretly, sometimes I regret it. In my case, it’s the exact opposite: now I have a very uncommon, Italian name, whereas before I had a simple Anglican name.
I would suggest you really think about why having the family name is important to you. It may not outweigh your other concerns. But in either case, I’m sure you’ll adjust, and it’s great that your Fiance is supportive!
Post # 11
- Wedding: March 2010 - Calamigos Ranch
I think changing your name when you have a professional reputation with your maiden name is really difficult. I think in this case hyphenating would be a good idea (except for that darn apostrophe!), or just start publishing with your full name (First Maiden Newlast), which will make the transition easier.
But if you’re not totally tied to taking his name… I wouldn’t. I’d keep my maiden name if I were in your situation (admittedly, I am not–I love my Pakistani last name, but I don’t have a career attached to it yet and so I’m moving it to the middle). You can give your children your last name as middle names, and that will help keep continuity for them. (I work with one of my supervisors, who didn’t change her last name, AND her daughter, who has her mother’s name as a middle name–she said it never really caused problems for her, if that helps.)
Post # 12
Thanks so much for these thoughtful responses. I could never have imagined I would have this much anxiety about changing my name…but I just freak when I think about it. I think it’s esp. bad b/c I’ve been working insane hours lately, on papers, so I keep seeing my name at the top of all these drafts…I really like using my maiden name professionally. And I do feel that people somehow look down on changing it in physics (many women don’t). My mentor thinks it’s nuts that I’m even considering it. I do like the idea of having his last name, though. My sister legally changed her name, but keeps her maiden name professionally (for now…she might stop that soon, but she owns a business so it’s just different). I might try the opposite (having a different professional and legal name would be a huge mess b/c for me I’m pretty sure). One thing I know I will *never* be okay with is Mrs. HisFirstName HisLastName (sorry, I at least get to keep my first name!). But Ms. MyFN (MyLN) HisLN sounds okay to me socially…and maybe Dr. MyFN MyLN are okay legally and professionally.
Men do not have to worry about these things!
Post # 13
- Wedding: May 2020 - Our home and the two acres it sits on
Keep it. You can always change it later. For some reason, we tie name-changing with marriage, and I think they should be considered separate decisions without linked timing.
Get married, get used to being a wife, and in a year decide what you want to do about your name. Even if you do change it, you’ll feel better about the process of the decision-making, and not feel pressured.
Really. I changed my name the first time I got married, and always had this uncomfortable feeling about it. I did it, but I dragged it out — I just wasn’t joyous about it.
I thought long and hard about changing my name this time, decided to do it, and found myself happy and excited about it when I finally could.
Give yourself time, and see how you feel once your identity as a wife is more solid. Then consider messing with your identity as a person and scientist. It’s asking too much of you and of your marriage to do it all at once.
In My Humble Opinion, of course!
Post # 14
My fiance and I talked about this, AGAIN, last night and came to the conclusion that I will not change anything. I will keep my maiden (haha!) name. BUT I will go by MyFirst HisLast everywhere except when filling out legal documents (ie: passport, social security, etc). Now the ramifications of this, I have not yet checked into. I might end up making his last name my middle name, or vice versa, or have two last names but go by one, but all in all I just can’t stomach letting go of my name.
It ties me to my heritage, my two names sound good together, and I just like it. We ended our conversation last night with me saying that I didn’t want to have last names that differ from my potential children. He responded, "Then I gues you have to change." I said "Hey I am the one pushing human life forms out of my body, why the heck wouldn’t they have MY name??"
That pretty much stopped the conversation in its tracks, but I am really getting sick of all these accepted things because they’re tradition. Tradition doesn’t mean its right.
I totally feel for you, and I am not even a published professional.
Post # 15
It really is quite frustrating. We even looked into both changing our names to a combination name (since both of our names were changed at Ellis Island anyway), but it is too difficult for men with security clearances to change their names! I am keeping my last name as my last name. My middle name is already my mother’s last name. Our children will have his last name.
If your concern is about seeming like a family when you have children, have you considered a hyphenated name for your kids (my name and my brother’s names were hyphenated for a long time). As a teacher I can tell you that the problems that existed when my mother kept her name 33 years ago are not the same today. We are used to calling offices to find mothers and schools have computerized databases with the correct last names that we look at before we call. Also, I would say that (for many reasons) over 50% of the students’ mothers I call have a different last name.
My name is part of who I am. I couldn’t imagine losing that. Good luck with your decision!
Post # 16
I decided not to change my name in part for professional reasons.I wouldn’t have a problemif someone called me by my fiance’s last name, but I was worried about losing any professional reputation I had. Plus in my field (law), you have to use your "official"name.
But also, my mom didn’t change her name, and it wasn’t hard on me as a kid at all. Once or twice someone asked me if my parents were divorced (I didn’t mind their asking, I just corrected their mistake). Other than that, I thought it was completely normal that my parents had different last names.