Have you guys ever thought about the worth and value of your first and last name? Has it caused you any angst or frustration throughout your childhood and into your adult years? And as an adult have you reclaimed your Asian name if you have one? I know I have. You may be wondering why I am writing about this because it sounds all too simplistic, but in Australia, a 2017 University of Sydney study has shown that (via SBS The Feed):
13 per cent of job applicants with Anglo-Saxon names were invited back to an interview, compared with just 4.8% of Chinese-named applicants.
And if your first name is an Anglo one but your surname is Chinese your chances for an interview only increase by 4%… yups we are still disadvantaged no matter what we do. Personally for me, Erin is a name which my parents gave me as my legal name at birth, and left my Chinese name (Wen Ai) as my legal middle name. I hated it as a child that my middle name was Chinese and would lie to other kids and say my middle name was “Renee” but spelled as “Wen Ai”.
But now, I have reclaimed my middle name and use it every chance I can. My parents did tell me as a kid that they gave me an Anglo name at birth so that I would fit in better and that its best that I speak English at school and at home. Anyways, the point I was trying to make is that a “name” means so much and it has really traumatized and messed up so many of us Asian Australians and POC Australians who have felt ostracized and humiliated when we get knocked back for jobs or get told our names are “too hard” to pronounce. The worst is when they assume we are foreigners/fobs. Enough from me though, and here is some excerpts from this SBS The Feed article on this issue.
FYI, Cheng ( the person who is the main focus of this interview) is a good friend of mine and I am so glad that I was able to recommend him to SBS The Feed to be part of this news item:
Cheng was born in Victoria, went to high school there, then went to uni there – but when he’s searching for a job people still ask him, ‘Do you have permanent residency?’
“I’ve noticed if I used the name ‘Cheng’, people automatically assume I’m a foreigner,” says Cheng.
Up to the age of 15, Cheng was known as ‘Michael’. “[My parents] gave me like this sort of this-is-how-you’re-gonna-find-a-job-in-the-future pack. You’re gonna get a degree, Anglo name, and speak English well.”
But Cheng doesn’t want to change his name – he wants recruiters to change their approach to hiring. “Why would I use a name that’s not actually my name?”
While Cheng jokes about it with his mates, he admits, “It does get kinda hurtful because we start having thoughts like ‘maybe we’re worthless, comparatively.’”
Recently departed Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, hopes his new successor will help improve the odds of non-Anglo job seekers battling it out in the job market. In an ideal world, targets would be set, but Soutphommasane isn’t holding his breath.
“If you look at what’s happened with gender equality and the progress we’ve made in recent years, that’s a reflection of decades’ worth of organising advocacy and networks. You don’t quite have that level of sophistication yet on racial or cultural diversity.”
Anyways, check out the video at the start and it would be interesting to see if this name issue is a major stumbling block in other parts of the world where Asians are a minority.
Images via SBS The Feed
To read the original article, please click on: HOW MUCH DOES A NON-ANGLO NAME AFFECT YOUR JOB PROSPECTS?