What’s in a Name?

Since making the switch to going primarily by my initials, I’ve suspected that I should probably use my full first name in professional settings, at least at first when I can’t interact face to face. My rationale has been that I like to make it clear that I’m a woman—I get mislabeled enough as it is—and my first name is as feminine as they get, while my initials are gender-neutral at best.

My suspicions were confirmed last week when I’d been emailing back and forth with someone for a phone interview, and at one point she referred to me as Mr. Lastname. She was very apologetic when I cleared things up, but it got me thinking about initials. I’d say there are some that read as masculine to most people (AJ, DJ) and some that might read as feminine (CC, JJ), but on the whole it seems the default is to assume intials = dude. Why is that? Do more men than women go by intials?

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2 Responses to What’s in a Name?

  1. Seekins says:

    What do you think of the idea of maleness as being the default setting – i.e. when we don’t know if a person or animal (or even something else) is female or male, we project maleness onto it? Maybe this person made that leap and didn’t even realize what they had done?

    Or maybe, in this case, it IS as simple as more men than women go by their initials.

  2. pandanose says:

    Well, in this case she said she kept seeing my initials and completing them into “Mike” instead of just seeing them as initials. But while I see your point, in this case if they’d thought a little bit about it, female should’ve been the default–they knew I was from a library organization, and the library field is still incredibly female-dominated.

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