Men are more often called by name – and that’s why it’s a problem
Darwin, Eystein, Lomonosov, Lenin. But – Maria Sklodowska-Curie and Nadezhda Krupskaya. When we talk about professionals, whether they are scientists, politicians or sportsmen , we tend to call men by name, and women – by name and surname.
In any case, the results of the new study speak about this, noting that this state of affairs is more important than we think. Why? Well, at least because, it seems, if someone is called only by name, in the eyes of others this person automatically has more weight. And this alone, according to scientists, can be a factor of gender inequality in many professional spheres.
Experiment with two Berson
Psychologist Stav Atir of Cornell University decided to conduct the study after observing that when mentioning male politicians, the media is more likely to use only surnames than in the case of women politicians. “At first it was just an observation,” she quotes New Scientist. “But then I wanted to find out if this model really exists, and if so, does it have any consequences.”
Together with her colleague Melissa Ferguson, Atir began the study with an analysis of 5,000 online reviews and the decoding of more than 300 entries on the policy of various American radio resources. In another experiment, 184 volunteers were given identical texts about the work of fictional chemists Dolores Berson and Douglas Berson who they had to rewrite, keeping the information as complete as possible.
As a result, in these and several other similar experiments, scientists found that, on average, both men and women are twice as likely to refer to men only by surname, unlike women. In the experiment with the Berson, for example, they were generally four times more inclined to this. Conclusions, explain Atir and Ferguson, are fair at least in relation to the figures of science, literature and politics.
The Matthew Effect
It is unlikely that even the most progressive of us thought about this, but in fact the shift in emphasis on the last name with men, but not with women, can have real (and very important) consequences. In recent experiments, Atir and Ferguson found that scientists who are called by name, rather than by first and last name, are more often recognized as more famous and outstanding.
From past research, we know that fame can lead to even greater recognition. This phenomenon in social psychology is known as the effect of Matthew, for he himself echoes the quotation fromthe Proverbs of the talents in the Gospel of Matthew: “… for to every one that is given, he will be multiplied, and that which has not will be taken away from him that has not.” One study, for example, showed that reviewers are more likely to positively assess the document of a well-known author when they know who wrote it. In contrast to situations when they have before them a document of the same famous author , but his name is hidden.
This same idea is reflected in the final experiment of Stav Atir, where more than 500 people were asked to say whether scientists (some and only named by name and others by name and surname) should receive a National Science Foundation prize of $ 500,000. As a result, those who were named exclusively by last name were 14% more likely to be recommended for rewarding.
And what in the end?
Despite the fact that the study was closely related to the issues of gender inequality, the authors of the work believe that in fact women are more often called by name and surname than by malicious intent, but only because in this way we all want to help them gain recognition. “When you hear a surname, you think by default that this is a man,” says Atir. Thus, the full names of women are almost always used to emphasize their contribution and participation. But positive motivation, alas, can lead just to the opposite.