Vol. 70 No. 3 (2022): Names: A Journal of Onomastics

Using Onomastics to Inform Diversity Initiatives: Race, Gender, and Names in Academic Radiology in Canada

Sohrab Towfighi
University of British Columbia
Adrian Marcuzzi
University of British Columbia
Salman Masood
University of British Columbia
Mohsin Yakub
California University of Science and Medicine
Jessica B. Robbins
University of Wisconsin
Faisal Khosa
University of British Columbia

Published 2022-08-22


  • anthroponymy,
  • gender equality,
  • racism,
  • radiology,
  • surnames,
  • medicine,
  • Canada
  • ...More


In multiracial societies, the diversity of names in the workforce may reflect racial inclusivity. There is scant data on racial representation among Canadian physicians, prompting our analysis of naming diversity. We profiled the race and gender demographics of the names of physicians in Canadian academic radiology departments. Further, we devised a structured classification methodology using a commercial artificial intelligence and naming database to classify 1,727 names according to national origin and gender. The names were retrieved from faculty websites. A Z-test of proportions was used to compare radiologists’ name demographics to demographics from the 2016 Canadian census. In close agreement with much of the literature on gender demographics, 31.99% of names were classified as female. Names that were classified as belonging to Indigenous, Black, Latin American, and Filipino name-bearers were underrepresented. Names classified as belonging to the following groups were overrepresented: South Asian, Chinese, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, and Korean. Names associated with White subjects in the corpus were proportionally represented for full names and overrepresented for given names. Faculty with full names classified as Southeast Asian, Korean, and Chinese often had given names that fell into the White category. The structured methodology showed high inter-rater reliability for race classifications. The racial disparities we observed mirrored those found in surveys of medical students, suggesting that the bottleneck occurs at the level of medical school admissions. Thus, onomastics can provide valuable data to diversity initiatives.


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