With thousands of monikers to choose from (and more people calling their babies by non-name words), finding the perfect name for your baby can be a struggle. Plus, if you have yet to find out your baby's sex, you'll likely be drawing up a few lists: one for boy names, one for girls, and one with names that can go either way. According to public data from the Social Security Administration in the US, that third list has been growing in recent years.
A reporter at Quartz took a look at the name data and found that more and more names are becoming gender-neutral. They found a perfect example of this phenomenon in the name Charlie, which has been traditionally male (in 1910, 95 percent of all babies named Charlie were boys) but is now definitely gender-neutral (in 2016, the split was 51 percent girls and 49 percent boys). Yep, there were more girl Charlies than boy Charlies in 2016. #feminism
Take a look at the graph Quartz drew up showing the rise of female Charlies in the past 100 years:
Quartz also created its own scale that shows how gendered a name is in any given year. Scores of 1.00 show a name that is only used for one gender (they give the examples of Scarlett and Victoria, which have been used exclusively for girls) and scores closer to zero show gender neutrality (such as Charlie, which now has a score of 0.02). A look at the graphs they created for names such as Skyler, Parker, Casey and Blake, which show how drastically traditionally gendered names have moved toward gender neutrality.
While a lot of names are going gender-neutral, many others have switched genders over the years. But this mostly happens with male names being used for girls. “You hear about the trend toward androgynous names, but it’s actually a trend towards masculine names," says Laura Wattenburg from Baby Name Wizard. "Once a name crosses over, it seldom crosses back." This is the case with names like Ashley, Vivian and Leslie, which were all boy names once upon a time (like in the 1800s). Nowadays, those are thought of almost exclusively as girl names. A more recent example is the name Harper, which used to be a boy name, but as of 2016, about 97 percent of Harpers were girls.
This cultural shift towards unisex names is great, but it can be a double-edged sword if you're currently trying to pick a name for that bun in the oven. Because of the shift, you have so many more names to choose from, but that also means you have so many more names to choose from! So picking one is just that much more daunting. But don't stress, Mama—you got this.
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