Unisex Baby Names: Helpful or Harmful?

Are unisex baby names helpful or harmful?

There will never be a consensus, but the studies I’ve seen so far suggest that the answer could hinge upon the gender of the baby.

For instance, less-feminine names may help female lawyers get ahead and may encourage female students to stick with science. But less-masculine names may turn male students into discipline problems.

People have very strong opinions about this topic. (Just look at the hundreds of comments about Avery, Elliot, Peyton, Rory, and so forth.) So let’s try a pair of polls…

For baby GIRLS, are unisex names helpful or harmful?

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For baby BOYS, are unisex names helpful or harmful?

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Consider teasing, consider gender discrimination, etc.


5 thoughts on “Unisex Baby Names: Helpful or Harmful?

  1. I think it depends on the society. Some languages/places have truly unisex names and a true acceptance of them, and I guess the effects would be different there. In the modern US and English language there are not a lot of entrenched, true unisex names. We also have some serious gender separation evidenced by extreme machoness on the male side, to pick one effect that’s most noticeable when compared to the majority of other countries. In that case I don’t think I could ever advocate for unisex names. Whatever benefits they may provide (generally to girls in a society like the US) are really just serving to keep the differences between the genders entrenched. We want a society where Rafaella feels just as good in law school or science as Jordan does. We don’t want to keep playing right into the game.

  2. True unisex names are nicknames used by both genders: Nicky, Jessie, Sam, Dee, Cam, Ellie, Alex, etc.

    All the others are male names used on girls, which I’m totally against. Avery, Elliott, Peyton and Rory are male names. All the girls with these names just happen to have a boy name.

  3. I’d love it if unisex were truly unisex, but its not the case. They usually originate as male and end up as female names.
    For a name to be truly unisex, it needs to reach very high levels of popularity for males (think Ryan, Dylan, Tyler, Cameron, Jordan), that the fact that it gets popular for girls doesn’t deter parents from using them for their sons. Because we all know most “unisex” names that are semi-popular for boys, when they start to rise for girls, they usually stop being given to boys (think Ashley, Kelly, Kim, Tracy, Shannon, Courtney, Leslie, McKenzie…). Some of those were actually top100 choices for boys but they became soooo popular for girls, that parents just dropped them off for boys.
    It’d be great if this wasn’t the case, and boys & girls could share names, but usually they just become a lot more popular for one gender (usually girls). Also, it’d be great if unisex names migrated from girls to boys. Where are all the boys named Jessica, Samantha, Alyssa, Karen, Molly, etc? That doesn’t happen, which leads me to think there are some strong gender biases.

  4. I agree with the first poster. In our society, I think it’s easier for people to have names which clearly show their gender. Also, since unisex names are usually “boy’s” name given to girls, I’m concerned about sending the message that it’s better to be more masculine and less feminine. I would rather see girls given strong, female names that they can be proud of than wanna-be boy’s names.

  5. I wish you’d included “neither” as an option! I honestly don’t think they make a difference as a whole. I do think a “serious” name is helpful over a “not serious” name, but Elizabeth or Katherine is as good that way as Peyton or Avery.

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