Is your name ruining your life?

my mothers name I am after Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, a tender star of Hindi cinema in the 70’s and 80’s. I completely lost sight of my schoolmates in a very white part of southern England in the early 2000s.

When you’re at this age, any point of difference is a source of deep embarrassment, and having a foreign name is just another thing in the mix—from ignoring rhyming undertones to correcting, or shying to correct verbal errors. (Amir, Ahmed – So far, the way I say my name to people outside my family isn’t actually correct.)

But you grow in your name, I think. And as I got older, I began to appreciate its relative uniqueness, and carried it more gently. Whether you like your name or not, it becomes the badge you present to the world – your “personal brand”. But they are also a source of information about you – names “send signals about who we are and where we come from,” as Maria Konnikova wrote in New Yorker. Sometimes these signals can be harmful.

On 1 August, Hamza Yusuf, the Scottish Minister of Health, accused the Dundee Junior Scientists Nursery of discriminating against his young daughter. based on her name. When Youssef’s wife, Nadia Al-Nakla, emailed the nursery to ask for places for their two-year-old daughter, Amal, she was told there were no places available. But a friend with a whiter name who emailed the next day was offered a choice between three afternoon shifts and a tour of the nursery. Follow-up inquiries from a journalist using a similar tactic got the same result – a fictitious parent with an Islamic name was denied a place in custody for their child, while white-name applicants were given options and information on how to do so. to sign up.

It would be easy to dismiss this as an isolated incident, but it is not. Decades of research have found that name discrimination in education and employment is very real. A cleverly designed study in the United States found that black-name candidates need Eight more years From experience to have the same number of callbacks as those with whitewashed names, for example. similar Research On contracts He found the same effect.

I found Hamza Yusef’s story very disturbing. I am 33 years old, a few years younger than him, and my wife and I are about to buy a house together. I’ve been obsessed with the demographics of the areas we’re looking to relocate to, trying to pave the way for our virtual children. Perhaps I should have taken the time to come up with a more English-sounding nickname to give them.

Youssef’s experience made me think, for the first time really in my life, about my name and the impact it had on my character and career path. Would I be a completely different person if I called something different? How many doors have been closed in my face without me knowing it? Is my name ruining my life?

The most recent work on this matter in Europe is GEMM survey, a five-year field study of five countries in which researchers applied for thousands of real jobs using a mix of different names (GEMM stands for Growth, Equal Opportunity, Migration and Markets). The results were horrific. Ethnic minorities needed to submit 60 percent more requests to get as many callbacks as the white majority.

I used to think that being from a well represented group (British Asians) and living in a relatively diverse city (London) might protect me from the worst of these influences, but in fact the opposite seems to be true. Countries with a long history of immigration from former colonies appear to have higher rates of discrimination. British employers were the most differentiated in the study, which also looked at Norway, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. “We were a little surprised by that,” he says. valentina de stasio, an assistant professor at Utrecht University worked on research. “In Britain it is very high by international standards.”

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