Has your name ruined your life?

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My mother called I am named after Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachan, a gentle star in Indian cinema in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early 2000s, when I was in a school in a very white area in southern England, my classmates completely forgot about this reference material.

When you reach that age, any differences will make you deeply embarrassed, and having a foreign name is just another hybrid-from ignoring rhyming ridicule to correcting, or too shy to correct, wrong pronunciation . (Amir, Ahmed-even now, the way I say my name to people outside of my family is actually incorrect.)

But I think you grow into your name. As I grow older, I begin to appreciate its relative uniqueness and carry it more easily. Whether you like your name or not, it will become your badge to the world-your “personal brand”.But it is also about your source of information-the name “sends a signal about who we are and where we come from,” Maria Konnikova wrote New Yorker. Sometimes these signals can be destructive.

On August 1, Scottish Minister of Health Humza Yousaf accused Dundee’s Little Scholars nursery of discriminating against his young daughter According to her nameWhen Yousaf’s wife, Nadia El-Nakla, asked the nursery about the location of their 2-year-old daughter Amal via email, she was told that there was no space available. But a friend with a whiter-sounding name emailed the next day can choose three afternoons and visit the nursery. A follow-up investigation by a reporter who adopted a similar strategy yielded the same results-fictitious parents whose names sounded like Muslims were denied a place in the nursery for their children, while applicants whose names sounded like white were given a choice Sign up with information on how to do it.

It is easy to dismiss it as an isolated incident, but it is not the case. Decades of research have found that name discrimination in education and employment is very real.A well-designed study in the United States found that candidates for black names need There are still eight years For example, the experience of getting the same number of callbacks as the callbacks with white names. Similar Research Over Decades Found the same effect.

I found Humza Yousaf’s story deeply disturbing. I am 33 years old, a few years younger than him, and my wife and I are going to buy a house together. I have been following the demographics of the areas we are considering moving to, trying to pave the way for our hypothetical children. Maybe I should take the time to design a surname for them that sounds more English.

The experience of Yousaf made me think for the first time about my name and its impact on my personality and career path. If I were called something different, would I be a completely different person? How many doors slammed shut in front of me without my knowledge? Has my name ruined my life?

The latest work in Europe in this area is GEMM survey, A five-year field study in five countries. Researchers applied for thousands of actual jobs under a mixture of different names (GEMM stands for growth, equal opportunity, immigration, and market). The results are shocking. Minorities need to send 60% more applications to get as many calls back as whites.

I thought that coming from a representative group (British Asian) and living in a relatively diverse city (London) might protect me from the worst of these influences, but in fact the situation seems to be the opposite. Countries with a long history of colonial immigration seem to have higher rates of discrimination. British employers were the most discriminatory in this study, which also looked at Norway, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. “We were a little surprised by this,” said Valentina Di Stacio, An assistant professor at Utrecht University engaged in this research. “In the UK, according to international standards, this is very high.”





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