Looking for success in biz? Change your name from ‘Jennifer’ to ‘John’

In the academic world, if your name is John, you’re more likely to be well-thought-of than you would be if your name were Jennifer. When science professors were asked to evaluate the same one-page summary of a promising, but not stellar job applicant, they gave higher scores to the potential applicant whose name was “John” than they did to “Jennifer.”

They estimated that the “Johns” ought to be making more money, too. And they were more likely to be willing to mentor “John.”

The New York Times tonight published a story about new work by researchers at Yale University that adds to the evidence that people making evaluations about the talent and worth of job applicants think more highly of candidates who are men. Even when the men are armed with identical qualifications described in precisely the same words. And even when its a woman making the evaluation.

Combine these findings with the story of “James Chartrand,” a female website developer who ditched her identity and began pitching her newly named company — “Men With Pens” — as an operation run by a guy. Business picked up. Online negotiating became easy.

And then there is the famous study about hiring practices by symphony orchestras. Hide a female musician behind a screen during an audition, and she is more likely to be hired. Here’s a link to that study. Read article.

In a column for CNN.com last week, I talked about the lopsided bylines that readers are exposed to when they read articles in newspapers or online. Women write only 20 percent of newspaper op-eds, yet they’ve received between 70 and 76 percent of all the journalism and mass communications degrees earned over the past ten years. If you have a daughter who isn’t in the workforce yet, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let her know what she has ahead of her. The fight for gender equality is not finished. It’s barely begun.

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