What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Romeo and Juliet
Act II, Scene II
Despite the fact that women made up half of the students graduating from law school in the past 15 years, the legal profession remains a male-dominated world. Consequentially, one would suspect that having a male persona or male moniker might still be advantageous to a career in law. We dub this the Portia hypothesis: females with masculine names are more successful in legal careers than females with feminine names.
...and lawyers in American firms with fluent names rise up the legal hierarchy to partnership more quickly than their non-fluently named colleagues. (The result persisted even when we focussed on Anglo-American names, so it doesn’t simply boil down to xenophobic prejudice.)
...Not being able to pronounce a name spells a death sentence for relationships. That’s because the ability to pronounce someone’s name is directly related to how close you feel to that person. Our brains tend to believe that if something is difficult to understand, it must also be high-risk.
People with easier to pronounce names are also judged more positively and tend to be hired and promoted more often than their more obscurely named peers.
A name is, after all, perhaps the most important identifier of a person. Most decisions are made in about three to four seconds of meeting someone, and this “thin-slicing” is surprisingly accurate. Something as packed full of clues as a name tends to lead to all sorts of assumptions and expectations about a person, often before any face-to-face interaction has taken place. A first name can imply race, age, socioeconomic status, and sometimes religion, so it’s an easy—or lazy—way to judge someone’s background, character, and intelligence.
We like what is familiar; in a traditional profession like the law and the judiciary, that may mean an unconscious bias towards men and "masculine monikers". Unfortunately it means that achieving true meritocracy in this profession is going to be difficult if irrelevant and seemingly unconscious considerations such as gender and the "pronounceability" of your first name sway hiring managers, managing partners, clients, and other decision makers.