Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Poorly-educated men judge women based on whether they take their husband's surname, report finds

Study shows group often believe a woman to be less committed to 'role as wife' if she has different surname

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Friday 27 January 2017 02:07 GMT
94 per cent of American women take their husband’s surname
94 per cent of American women take their husband’s surname (Getty Images)

Poorly-educated men judge women based on whether they take their husband’s name after marriage, a new study has revealed.

Research published in the Springer’s Gender Issues journal found men with low education levels most often believed a woman to be less committed to her “role as a wife” if she has a different surname to her husband.

The men also believed a husband had more grounds for divorce than a woman who had the same last name as her husband's.

However, author Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer found that last name choice had little effect on other women and highly-educated men’s perception of a wife.

Ms Shafer said the results showed men of lower education were more protective of overt demonstrations of gender hierarchy, including surname practices.

The report cited Hillary Clinton’s decision to take her husband Bill’s surname in 1980, after accusations her decision to keep her maiden name Rodham cost him political support.

“Her keeping her last name was seen to many as strange, even offensive, and she was labeled a bad wife in part because of her original choice to remain Hillary Rodham,” she said.

"Over 30 years have passed since that backlash, but surname choice in the US remains a highly gendered aspect of modern marriage.”

The study also highlighted recent findings that around 94 per cent of women in America take their husband’s surname, with half of the population believing it should be a legal requirement to do so.

"Low educated men's bias, coupled with the lack of economic incentive women have for retaining their surnames, suggests that we may continue to see a very low percentage of low educated women (those most likely to marry and interact with low educated men) making any choice other than to take their husbands' names in marriage," Ms Shafer wrote.

The study was based on data collected in 2010 from 1,243 US residents.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in