Mrs. Or Ms.? Should A Career Woman Take Her Husband’s Name?

November 22, 2013  |  


Kim Kardashian recently announced that after she and her betrothed Kanye West marry, she will be Kim West.

Kim K is not alone in her decision. More than 90 percent of women today decide to take their husband’s last name, reports PolicyMic. And contrary to the push for equality for women, that number has been steadily rising since the 1980s. Research shows there is still a certain perception that women who do not take their husband’s last name are “less committed” to the relationship, reports PolicyMic.

But does changing your name after you have already established yourself in your industry hurt your career?

“Sadly, hordes of research findings show that married women who don’t take their husbands’ names are  more successful than those who do because others judge them to be more intelligent, competent, and ambitious,” notes organization and leadership development specialist Dr. Anita Davis-DeFoe, author of Follow Her Lead: Leadership Lessons for Women As They Journey From the Backroom to the Boardroom tells us. “Even still, in 2013, over 80 percent of women of all ages take their husband’s names, or use their married names in some areas of their lives. We know her as the singer Beyonce but she chose to name her recent concert tour the Mrs. Carter World Tour. In some instances, taking the husband’s name can foster heightened recognition and respect in society, and some women use that to create opportunity or as a strategy to gain access to certain guarded spaces in an industry.”

Legally, there is no need to take on your husband’s name. “The marriage license is that document that provides access to benefits, property, etc.,” Dr. Davis-Defoe points out. “Taking a husband’s name truly becomes a sentimental personal and professional choice that varies from woman to woman… Changing of the name rarely contributes to the stability and fulfillment of a married relationship.”

Many more women are also marrying later in life, so a name change can also play a role in their career. By this time, they have already established themselves–their name–as a brand. Changing the name could affect their brand. “The issue has become that as women are getting married later, by this age, they have already created their adult identity, most have achieved a number of noteworthy milestones in their careers by this time, and have created a brand for themselves in the marketplace, in their field of expertise,” says Davis-DeFoe.

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