When women get married, it's often a question of what they'll do with their last name. The amount of women who opt to keep their maiden name is on the rise: in recent years, 20 percent of women do as opposed to 14 percent in the 1980s and 18 percent in the 1990s.
A recent study, however, analyzes how the American people feel about women changing their names. The report, entitled "Hillary Rodham Versus Hillary Clinton: Consequences of Surname Choice in Marriage," was published in the latest issue of the Gender Studies journal.
According to the study, more than 70 percent of American adults think that women should change their name -- and 50 percent believe it should be required by law. Over 1,200 participated in the study; they were asked about their opinions on a fictional woman named Carol Sherman, Carol Sherman-Cook and Carol Cook -- all married to Bill Cook.
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Author of the study and sociology professor at Portland State University, Emily Shafer, said that this belief about names was related to beliefs about women's commitment to marriage. "Carol" was perceived differently depending on what her name was.
"The most common reason (approximately 50 percent of the cases) given by individuals who advocated women's name change was the belief that women should prioritize their marriage and their family ahead of themselves," she said.
Shafer spoke to Broadly about the study. She said there are other reports that support the notion that women receive backlash when they "act like men" in the workplace. "My work shows that women can face backlash at home as well if they're not acting 'properly' as wives," she noted.
What will it take for maiden names not to be associated with marriage commitment? Shafer says if more women kept them, it would become more normal in our society -- just as working mothers are now the norm.