Gender Issues: What’s in a Name?

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Mar 11, 2013    •    686 Views

By Lilli DeBode, guest blogger, senior at Kent Place School

Replicating a study carried out by the Guardian last month, Gawker created a Venn diagram, (see below), that compares the top 25 baby names of 1994 to the 25 most popular names of current Yale students .

While there were only eight boys names that did not make the cutoff for Yale, 12 of the most popular girl’s names were left in the cold. Seven of the top 12 1994 names didn’t make it on Yale’s list.

So what names are Yale admission officers looking for? Rather than the common “Amanda,” “Nicole,” or “Kayla,” Yale plays it old-school; accepting a plethora of “Elizabeths,” “Victorias,” “Alexandras,” and “Katherines” (names that were up in the 70’s or higher on the 1994 list).

There was one name that was on Yale’s “Top 25” list, but was 185th on the 1994 list. Since then, this name has elbowed its way down to first place to win the title: “Most Popular  Baby Name of 2011.” So kudos to all the parents out there who, 18 years ago, had the insight and sagacity to name your daughter “Sophia,” thus putting her on the path leading straight to Yale’s gates.

Is there any way to predict the next holy grail of baby names? Clearly the current popular names aren’t going to cut it 18 years down the road. Trends show that name popularity travels down the socioeconomic ladder. First, upper class parents name their children an uncommon name, and then it works its way down the chain until it eventually becomes the most popular name of the year. Therefore, Yale-worthy names must be ahead of their time whilst keeping it classy. Here are some suggestions from writer, Blake Flannery, on how to unearth a baby name that might just be the next “Sophia.”

  1. Use a last name as your baby’s first.
  2. Use names that were popular when your grandparents or greatgrandparents were named.
  3. Look for less popular names from the Bible.



Sources and Resources: To read Gawker’s analysis of their Venn diagram, click here. For more incredibly interesting information about the economics of baby naming and how to give your baby a classy name, click here.

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