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What Is in a Name? Exploring Perceptions of Surname Change in Hiring Evaluations in Academia
2023-02-13, Stefanova, Vasilena, Latu, Ioana, Taylor, Laura K.
The motherhood penalty reflects inequalities in the workplace based on caregiver status. A number of factors have been identified as potential triggers of motherhood penalty effects, such as becoming pregnant or taking maternity leave. However, little is known as to whether these effects could also be triggered by more subtle cues that may signal potential changes in caregiver status. The current study investigated the impact of surname change visible on publication lists in academics’ Google Scholar profiles on evaluations of competence, commitment, work–family balance, hiring, and promotion likelihood. Contrary to the predictions in our preregistration, the findings showed that women who have changed their surname received more favourable evaluations compared to those who did not. In addition, female participants favoured female academics who have changed their surname compared to those who did not and this was mediated by higher perceived competence and commitment scores. These findings were interpreted through the lens of social role theory and the role prioritisation model, suggesting that behaviours that are consistent with gendered expectations are evaluated more favourably.