Why Women Don’t Have Surnames?

6 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2012

Date Written: December 10, 2012

Abstract

The use of names and surnames originated from the need of identifying individuals. Several systems were adopted since the antiquity yet in the modern Christian-European world the naming convention evolved into a stable patrilineal surname system. In a patrilineal system the family surname is taken from the male head of household and inherited from father to son, while the women must eventually drop their father’s surname as otherwise the family name would expand indefinitely. Yet not having a female surname is a humiliating situation. It is serious blow to gender equality and thwarts women from identifying their ancestral family. It is impossible in practice to preserve all the surnames of our ancestors but a more equitable system is quite feasible. An alternative is suggested on providing women with a more equitable situation, through the adoption of a double surname system.

Keywords: names, surnames, gender equality, naming system

JEL Classification: J7

Suggested Citation

Pareto, Vittorio Emmanuel, Why Women Don’t Have Surnames? (December 10, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2187315 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2187315

Vittorio Emmanuel Pareto (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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