Files: ordered-names.txt 80names.png 80balance.png
[Update] June 28, 2007 - I have been working on more interesting ways to display gender popularity of names. Take a look at my recent name charts.
I recently went looking for a good list of gender-neutral names. Most of what I found had no supporting information or indication of where the data came from. While I was looking I found the US Census Bureau's data on frequently occurring names from the 1990 census, so I decided to make my own list. Check out the Census documentation and methodology, too. It's pretty interesting.
To discover the "best" gender-neutral names, I ended up assigning each name a score based on both the balance of males and females having that name and also the name's overall popularity. For more details, see the complete list of 331 names attributed to both genders by the 1990 census. It includes slightly more information about the ordering process.
The top 80 names are listed below. Several of the top names were diminutives that could be formed from either male or female names. I separated these from the rest since they are kind of a special case. For the complete list of names in order together, see the complete list.
Diminutives: Jessie, Johnnie, Frankie, Willie, Jamie, Jackie, Robbie, Terry, Kris, Jaime, Pat, Tommie, Jimmie, Billie, Ollie, Gerry, Chris, Sammie, Bennie, Johnie, Dusty, Bobbie, Lou
Everything else: Leslie, Kerry, Morgan, Marion, Jody, Casey, Angel, Lee, Dana, Kelly, Guadalupe, Tracy, Ariel, Lynn, Francis, Sydney, Shannon, Carey, Jan, Yong, Alva, Taylor, Merle, Young, Hong, Lavern, Ivory, Trinidad, Rene, Shelby, Cruz, Dominique, Gale, Carrol, Robin, Alexis, Cleo, Devon, Courtney, Kim, Blair, Jean, Paris, Britt, Chong, Aubrey, Shawn, Jordan, Elisha, Stacy, Laverne, Lacy, Dee, Kasey, Augustine, Christian, Carroll
Several of the names were unexpected for me, so to get a better idea of how these names got placed where they did, I made a chart. Common names have wider lines, and the more gender-balanced names have centered lines. There is a second chart of the same top 80 names sorted by gender balance, from those used more often by males to those more often used by females. Evenly balanced names are near the middle of the chart. The ordering here was obtained based on a simple average of the two endpoints. These charts are admittedly kind of lousy. If anyone has recommendations for linux or NetBSD chart-making software, I would be glad to hear them.
I would have preferred to use a more recent source of names. Half a generation has been replaced since this data was collected, and I suspect that there have been a lot of changes. I would be glad to hear of any other data sources. Also feel free to contact me at evan at nixsyspaus dot org with any other questions or comments about this page.
March 18, 2007
This page and any derivative works may be published freely. The data on this page makes use of 1990 Census Name summary data, available at http://www.census.gov/genealogy/names/ from the US Census Bureau.