Be happy your name isn’t “Tahmincioglu by The Career Diva
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Be happy your name isn’t “Tahmincioglu

My last name has been the butt of jokes and a general curiosity to people all my life. But I never thought of it as a career liability, until now!

I just read through a study by professors at a trio of universities titled “The name-pronunciation effect: Why people like Mr. Smith more than Mr. Colquhoun” and it’s not good news for the Tahminicioglus of the world.

Turns out, people with hard-to-pronounce names are judged more negatively than the Jones and Smiths out there; and, the easy to pronounce among us are more apt to have higher-ranking positions.

The report by researchers at the University of Melbourne, Australia; University of Leuven, Belgium; and New York University found:

“Names vary in the ease with which they are pronounced.
Drawing on work in processing fluency, the current paper explored the name-pronunciation effect: that easy-to-pronounce names (and the bearers of those names) are judged more positively than difficult-to-pronounce names.”

The most disturbing part of the study is what the researchers found when they reviewed a host of U.S. law firms and the employees there. “An important real-world implication of the name-pronunciation effect: people with easier-to-pronounce surnames occupy higher status positions in law firms.”

While the news is disheartening for many of us with “weird” names, at least weird to certain people, it is nice to have a new excuse when I’m unable to advance in my career. And my disadvantage may have started well before I entered the workforce.

“In classroom contexts, for example, preferences for students with easy-to-pronounce names may result in selective treatment, engendering self-fulfilling prophecy effects often detrimental to educational and social outcomes,” the report stated.

Hey maybe I should just move out of the country. Tahmincioglu is like Smith in Istanbul.

The Career Diva


The Career Diva  Blog

Eve Tahmincioglu has been writing about business for nearly two decades and her stories have appeared in a host of publications including the New York Times, Time, Salon.com, and BusinessWeek. She is also a columnist for MSNBC.com where she writes the weekly “Your Career” column. From labor strife in the auto industry to buying funerals online, you never know what topic she’ll tackle next. Her specialties include workplace issues, the small business and entrepreneurial world, and leadership, including interviews with some of the biggest names in Corporate America. She was named one of the top ten career tweeters on Twitter by CareerBuilder and CNN; and CareerBuilder named CareerDiva.net one of the 9 Job Blogs You Should Be Reading.

Eve is the author of the book “From the Sandbox to the Corner Office”, which includes interviews with 55 CEOs and leaders from all walks of life talking about the life lessons they learned from parents, mistakes, career twists and even bad bosses. Eve has been writing about career development and labor issues for nearly two decades as a staff writer for a host of publications such as UPI, Women’s Wear Daily and the St. Petersburg Times. Selected portions of Eve’s book can be viewed here.