CNN and Money Magazine reported in 2013 that “secretary” was still the top job for females. The feminist movement is, perhaps, responsible for the name change to “administrative assistant” or “office professional,” but no matter what you call it, it’s what females in the workplace do if they’re not being librarians or kindergarten teachers.
So, what about men in the administrative field? Do they exist? Why, yes! The profession is 97% female (it’s why I use the pronoun “she” when I write), but three percent of us are men. More than a century ago, 85% of all clerical-type work was done by men, but when women entered the workforce and showed preference for this kind of position, it became “feminized” and men were no longer as interested in doing it.
Not so if you hop the pond, though. I read an article in The Guardian (from 2013) entitled, “Jobless Male Graduates Turn to Secretarial Work.” Our British counterparts are valued a bit more than we are here in the states, it seems, because some administrative professionals earn upward of £75,000 (that’s a little less than $100,000, by the way). British men find the salary adequate (no doubt!) and see it as a “stepping stone to other positions within the company.”
This doesn’t seem to happen in the United States, particularly because most of the time “administrative assistant” is a stepping stone to nothing…although that wasn’t always the case. As Amy Eagle wrote in her Chicago Tribune article, “A Job Once Filled By Men Became a Pink Profession:”
The position of clerk (as secretaries were more commonly known then) had been an entry-level professional job. “Clerks often went on to become managers,” said Leon Fink, a history professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As corporations grew and management required more specialized training, office support became “more of a permanent subordinate position,” he said.
Still, there are some men in the field. I headed over to a write-up Monster.com posted called “The Few, The Proud: Men in the Admin Position” and what I read there was somewhat interesting. They reported that women should expect to see more competition as the position grows and expands beyond typical secretarial duties. “Men find the technological side of the profession more likeable than typewriters or mimeographs,” explained Ronald Hyman, CPS and president of the Florida division of the International Association of Professionals.
I can’t remember when I last touched a typewriter or even laid eyes on a mimeograph, but whatever.
As long as perceptions of the administrative position are tied to typing, calendar management and…um…mimeograph machines…we females will continue to dominate the field. Men will hesitate to enter a “pink profession” because it’s not masculine, it doesn’t pay enough, and it’s not interesting because there are “typewriters.” A Revolutionary Assistant, though, is a business partner to her executive, and does much more than that. We could make this into a position that’s much more interesting.
But let’s keep it under wraps, because boys are gross.
Next Post: Wednesday, October 26