What Did You Say Your Name Was? Your Baby´s Name Can Get Them A Great Future Job—or Not!

November 30, 2012  |  


These days celebrities are naming their babies some unique — some would say weird — names. Beyonce and Jay’s little girl is Blue Ivy. Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple (though the name is catching on). And then there is Erykah Badu, who is a whole different category. Her son is Seven Sirius and her daughter is Puma.

None of these are among the most popular names just released by BabyCenter, which revealed their annual list of top 100 baby names for 2012. Ahead of the pack for boys is Aiden once again (as it has been for eight consecutive years); Sophia is tops for girls, as it has been for three years running. New to the top 10 are the names Mia and Jack. For girls the others in the  top 10 include Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Ava, Lily, Zoe, Chloe, and Madison. Rounding out the top 10 boys names are: Jackson, Ethan, Liam, Mason, Noah, Lucas, Jacob, Jayden, and Jack.

“BabyCenter’s name list is based on the names of 450,000 babies born this year to mothers registered with the BabyCenter website,” reports Moms Today.

Some names may seem cute at the time, but did you know it could affect your child’s future job propects—and even education?  According to various studies, a name can affect how a child is perceived in school and how an adult might perform on a job. In fact, according to one study, “49% of teachers make assumptions about children based on their name,” reports Business Insider.

And it’s not just the teachers who make judgment calls on kids because of their names. Other kids do as well. One study by parenting club Bounty.com, found that five-year-olds judge their classmates by their names. “Making decisions based strictly on names, four- and five-year-olds told Jack Daniel, a professor of communication at the University of Pittsburgh, that Sarah is smarter than Shaniqua, that they would rather play with Megan than Tanisha, and that Jamal was more likely to take a bite out of their sandwich than Adam,” writes Business Insider.

After school, a person’s name could steer them to one profession versus another, according to the magazine. “Unique names might not benefit your child when it comes to a future job hunt. Career success is often predicted on gender stereotype. And women with feminine names like Emma, Marta and Winnifred are expected to succeed as nurses and hair stylists. Men named Frank, Hank and Boris are expected to succeed as plumbers, truck drivers and electricians,” says Business Insider.

Try getting a high-end executive gig with the name Twanna. You might not even get an interview, an investigative report by 20/20/ABC discovered. Like it or not, racist views — whether overt or subconscious — can cause employers to turn down potential employees just based on their name. “Job recruiters are 17% more likely to download resumes with white-sounding names than those with black-sounding names,” reports Business Insider. Roland Fryer, an economist and assistant professor at Harvard University, told the site, “A distinctively black name tells us that a person typically comes from a neighborhood that has higher poverty, lower income, more likely to have teen mothers, et cetera.”

So, a name is more than just a name.

Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • UmmYeahOK

    You can’t really include Asians because they’re considered the “ideal minority” by white America. So regardless of their “ethnic” names, we’ve subscribed to this pervasive stereotype that they’re all studious, intelligent, diligent workers who would rather assimilate than rock the boat.

  • Deedee

    PREACH!! I worked in a middle school in Harlem over the summer and getting through the attendance list took up the first half of class smh. The names these poor kids have…to name a few: La-washia & La-Dryia (pronounced la washa and la drya)..Adorable, Alize, Quintasia, Trimsmile (pronounced Tra-smilee) smdh. This should be considered child abuse.

  • Nikki Darcy

    yeah, with a name like Jack Daniel, no wonder he is studying names, just kidding! thanks for the article. 9 months pregnant, naming my son John, Johnny. 🙂

    • AFSergeant

      I’m glad I’m not the only one that picked up on that

  • Hasina

    I love my name. It’s a name that a minority would have but you can’t really tell what my ethnicity may be until I show up to the interview. My name could be from India, Middle Eastern, African and even Spanish.

  • One of my favorite professors told us on the first day of class when she read roll was, “The only things you own in life are your name and your degree.”
    If your name is Shaquanda then own it. Yes it may hinder you, but it might not. I have met plenty of successful people is more “urban” names.
    I’m American and I live in Europe, my name is simple and in the states I have met white people with my name “Janae”. Here in Europe it isn’t that common, but I am treated like everyone else and given the same opportunities. Yes I go places and they can’t pronounce it, if it’s something important I will kindly pronounce it correctly and move on like my above mentioned professor told us to do in that case.

  • NikkitaMichelle

    I agree with a lot of this. There was even a study on ABC about how people with ethnic names resumes were overlooked on job websites, but when the names were changed to plain Jane those identical resumes got tons of calls. It’s sad. But with names like Barrack and Condoleeza some times you just have to let your performance surpass your name.

    • NikkitaMichelle

      After I saw that ABC special I specifically avoided naming my sons Davante and Lebron for this specific reason. I have an ethnic name, but I always knew that if I got the interview I could get the job if I wanted it. But the world still has hang ups with black men. And our men need all the help they can get.

  • Guest

    I am glad this issue is being talked about because some of these names are just criminal. Please remember that children grow up into adults who get stuck with these names that may have seemed cute on kids, but just sound ridiculous on grown folks, LaQuinisha, LaQuintonya, Luxor, Simplicity, Infiniti, Quantanna and Hashtag are just a few of the unfortunate names I’ve heard that parents named their children!!! Give your children a break and a fighting chance in life by starting with a reasonable name. These children are always going to be pre-judged based on their names.

  • ANTMilf

    I thank my parents for naming me Natasha and everyone in my family has normal sounding names. Even my uncle Jacob who is 63 told me that people start giving their kids unique names back in the 1960s because names like Mary or James were names given by their master during slavery. I even name my daughter Aaliyah, after the singer (biggest fan!), but there’s 3 girls in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom: Reality, Daiquiri, and Tumaureau (pronounced tomorrow).

    • Tumaureau?!?! really??? Damn that kid is screwed!

    • realadulttalk

      I can’t! A drink and the most bastardized spelling of tomorrow ever. WTH?!?!? A lady on the radio had a friend who named their child Ciroc. People should lose their kids if those are the names they want to give them. Lol

  • GirlSixx

    it is what it is!!! people can get mad all they want too but a name can either make or break your child’s employement future. Potential employers especially in HR (human resources) will judge an applicant based on their name, an applicant with the name Daquan or Sheniqua (just examples) will get passed over and not even looked at. I had my daughter in the late 90’s when names like mercedes, alexus,…….exotic names, etc were popular but I refrained from doing that because I want her to have a chance to at least make it INTO the Interview Room before getting turned down.. Her first name is an Irish name and our last name is Jewish.. SHE”S GOOD!!!!

    • Fiedah

      I don’t really care for those kind of names, but I call them African American names. For you to be proud that you gave your child and Irish name and you have a Jewish last name is ignorant as he*ll!

  • I yearn for the day when a person’s name won’t matter

  • Meyaka

    Well I never had a problem with my name,at the exception of a few people trying to be funny,no one as misspelled it and I never had a problem getting work,I see your point however I know a woman named bam-bamquisha and she had the nerve to tell me her name was African…

  • realadulttalk

    I have an African name–man did I have issues growing up. I got sick of correcting teachers (I spent a year just answering to another name) and by high school was requesting people refer to me by my nickname. I noticed when I first started applying for jobs that those who did call me back were hesitant to say my name. And when I shortened my name…I got way more calls than ever before. I not only gave my daughter what I consider a normal name–I also gave her a unisex name…her name will never be her disadvantage.

    • Fiedah

      I have an African/Arabic name too. People called me fajita pita. I like my name though, and I like the meaning. If I have kids I’ll give them African names too.

      • realadulttalk

        Even my family hated my name–I was given my name (and a nickname) within seconds of each other. Many people don’t even know my real name b/c no one in my family uses it (my dad named me–my mom used my nickname)

  • Prissy

    I DO LOVE my people, But I swear my generation ( I am 25 years old) has gone insane in the membrane. WHY on earth are we giving children these names that we have to sound it out before even being able to say it? Like for real?

    • realadulttalk

      They talked about this on the radio this morning. Caller said she had 2 girls in her camp that were sisters…Beyonce & Solange. I was like really???

      • In my neighbourhood a lady named her sons Kobe and Lebron! So it gets worse!

  • There will be forever a debate about this in the black community. Rule of thumb i’d advise to any young parent…Name your child whatever in the world you want to, but somewhere in there toss in a middle “job friendly” name that they can use. My professional name is not the name that i go by outside of work. :O)

    • 1Val

      We agree on advising young parents to name their child whatever they like. Its 2012 and black folks still have this beg employers for job mentality. What about encouraging youngsters to become business owners, write grants, create and control their destiny. We have a Black President in office, several black billionaires(Oprah and African men with “gasp” black names) and more opportunities we’ve ever had in history. Sadly, too many of us are shucking and jiving to assimilate although it is no longer necessary.

    • USAFSergeant

      Speaking of names, I wonder how many people here get your screen name. I lol’ed the first time I saw it, and the next “13” times I’ve read one of your posts.

      • UmmYeahOK

        I got it! lol

  • MakeupWhore

    Oh I know a baby named Chase Cash.Wtf is wrong with people

    • GirlSixx

      Chase is actually a pretty cool “JOB FRIENDLY” name. 🙂

      • NikkitaMichelle

        It’s not the name it’s the combination of the two that’s an issue. What’s the boy’s middle name?

  • MakeupWhore

    My parents gave me a name that ends in “Niqua” 🙁 I absolutely hate my first name.When I speak people tell me my voice doesn’t match my name.Oh and white people always ask me if my name is African o_O They seem to love it ans I just look at them like they`re smoking crack .Sighs my neighbor just named her daughter Khole Kouture

    • GirlSixx

      Died laughing at Kouture.. WTF!!!!???? but it’s a middle name she be alright.. *lol*

  • 1Val

    Its not their names which prevents black people from succeeding it is racism. Asians(doctors, engineers, executives) and non-Americans whites(Eastern Europeans have syllables without vowels in their names) have unpronouncable names yet they manage to have fantastic careers. So a black person with a generic name will be rejected in person if the employer does not want to hire a black person.

    • yes you are right but what are you arent taking into account that gives them away as “non” american or american but not black is the last name. if the first name is unpronounceable but the last name is JENKINS you can pretty much guess.

    • realadulttalk

      Yes and no–Asians tend to adapt American names as well to become successful.

      • That isn’t true, many second and third generations have “American” first names. i.e Amy Chao etc.

        • NikkitaMichelle

          Depends on the Asians you know. I had a neighbor who’s name was Yen, but she went by Ann her brother’s name was Shing Shong and he went by Tommy. Some do change their names when they move here. And of course some are American born and don’t want to necessarily use cultural names.

        • realadulttalk

          Did you mean to respond to me? B/c you didn’t disagree…

          • No, my bad. I agree with you. I was trying to respond to Jason

            • realadulttalk

              Lol..no biggie…that’s why I ask. 🙂

        • 1Val

          Does it matter that they have American first names when their surnames identifies their race? The notion that you have to conceal being black to land job interview does not address employers face to face discrimination. If bigot refuses to hire Shameka he isn’t hiring black Heather either.

          • Did you follow the response I responded to? Someone claimed that Asians were proud of their heritage and didn’t change their names to get jobs. I simply pointed out that that isn’t true as many Asians have “American” names that they use to work. Simply pointing out fact not making an argument for black people naming their children “white” names in order to get hired.

      • 1Val

        Parents can and often do name their children whatever they like. The fact of the matter is if an employer rejects an application because of their ethnic name they were not hiring that person anyway. Barack, Oprah, Beyonce certainly didn’t have any problems assimilating with their ethnic black names. Non-black minorities retain their cultural names albeit many have American nicknames. Racism not monikers is the issue.

        • realadulttalk

          No, actually YOU changed the topic…the topic at hand is names…not racism. Didn’t Barack go by Barry? I can’t speak on Oprah–but here name does not appear African. Beyonce??? What would she have to do with anything???

          • pointtaken

            Exactly realduittalk! Barrack was able to do it because he went by Barry. Oprah and Beyonce are in the entertainment industry. I think that makes I difference.

            A lot of Asians adopt an English name or Americanize their first names. I have found that this is especially so for the Chinese.

            • 1Val

              Asians adopt American nicknames without altering their legal names which appears on resumes. If an Asian adopts American first name they have Asians surnames which identifies them by race. So if Asians are hired obviously their names are not barriers to their employers. This article is tongue in cheek because if Winthrop Prescott is African American and bigot refuses to hire him his name had nothing to do with his rejection. Latinos, Asians and European whites names are not barriers to their employment but blacks with so called ethnic names is the reason they are denied advancement is racial brainwashing and black self hate at its worst.

          • 1Val

            Actually I didn’t change the topic. As a kid Barack’s nickname was Barry. However, he went by Barack as a man applying for jobs. Oprah is a biblical name and most definitely does not appear “white.” Beyonce is an example of a non-mainstream name which did not impede a black woman’s success.

            The perception of black name discrimination discounts racial discrimination for African Americans. When African Americans were enslaved and lived during Jim Crow majority of us had Eurocentric names. Frederick, Nat, Martin,Malcolm,Harriet, Phyllis,Rosa, Martin Delaney were just as discriminated against as Cinque, Olaudah Equiano, Sojourner,Coretta, Booker T. because of the color of their skin not the sound of their names. The rationale is applicable today so naming a black boy Hennessy or Henry will not prevent him from being discriminated by a bigot since bigot was never hiring a black man anyway.

    • Fiedah

      Thank you. Naming your baby Kennedy or Taylor is not going to get rid of racism.

    • Mo

      Thank You! Let’s be honest, there are plenty of ways to screen out black applicants if you do wish to hire them. Oh, you have a mainstream name, but they look at the zip code where you live and it is a predominately black area. Or you have the “right” name and the “right” zipcode, but you went to an HBCU. or you have the right name, zip code and eductional pedigree, but the sorority or fraternity you belong to gives your blackness away. So…you manage to avoid ANY of these tell tale markers of blackness and you get an interview. Then you show up with your BLACK FACE and if they are trying not to hire black people (which is what we assume they are doing when they rule an otherwise qualified person out because of a name) you will not get that job.

      Racism and racial perceptions are the real issue here, not names. The children in that study ascribe negative attributes to Saniqua and Tanisha and Jamal because their names indicate their blackness and the children think negatively of blackness – not black names. They will still think little black Adam is more likely to bite their sandwich and black Sarah is not as smart.

      While I certainly hope people use basic common sense in naming their children, if you think giving them a “normal” name will somehow protect them frm racism you are probably incorrect.

    • jai

      I completely agree. The names ate not why these people are not being interviewed…its racism…plain and simple!

  • Ebby

    Can someone please tell my nephew who just recently named his daughter Dmanie.
    -___- I tried

    • Fiedah

      Like Damani? That’s an African name.

  • MKayy

    I would really like to know what goes through people’s minds when they name their children crazy names! “Imma name him…. TriQuarionte” -___- really? Sounds destined for the jailhouse .

    • Herm Cain

      It’s younger parents a lot of times they are not thinking that far ahead as minorities you are already discriminated against the last thing you need is a ignorant a** name on that application

      • Alohilani

        How can a name be ‘ignorant’?

        • Noxema don’t sound ignorant to you? Yes named from the face cream not some ancient African tribal name. How about Bonequiza. I’m not make this ish up either.

          • Alohilani

            No, it doesn’t ‘sound ignorant’. It is foolish, but not ‘ignorant’, because people can be ignorant, not things.

            • Thank you for the English lesson. I was using the urban definition/slang of ignorant.

              • Alohilani

                Okey dokey.

    • blakelive21

      Black people are stupid