The Secretary and her changing role

You’d be forgiven for thinking that from the title I had written something sexist. Have I though? Let’s look at it. First of all, I’ve used a term that is not used anymore i.e. Secretary mainly because it is seen as a female dominated role. We now use the more gender-neutral term of the admin assistant to describe the role. When the term was used however the work of admin was just a part of the job. These ladies provided support that was unrivalled. Should you need the same and are looking at Gloucestershire Business Support then try this website They do all the jobs you don’t want to but have to do.

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When we think of the secretary we generally associated it with the heyday of the big business. Before the electronic printer and photocopier made the need for so many of them obsolete there was an army of stenographers and typists sat in the pool hammering away at the masses of correspondence that the company needed sending out. They were surrounded by the offices of the executives, all looking for the way up to the office on the next floor or the coveted corner office with the extra space.

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His girl Friday, the can-do lady, always ready to bring a sympathetic ear when he says that his wife doesn’t understand him, and he needs to offload. That is the archetypical person we consider when we think of the secretary. Young and pretty not always the brightest tool in the box. Naïve and easy to manipulate not world wise and constantly overawed by the executive’s brilliance that an affair is bound to happen as she takes dictation. She has to be on her game as the other girls in the typing pool are circling mercilessly ready to pounce with a quick “what would you like coffee? Tea? Me?” Bag themselves your cushy job and they’ll be married and out of the office and a homemaker before you can say, ‘Home cooked roast and apple pie’. It’s just plain stereotypical beliefs that these women, the Secretary, were like this and that this was all they were capable of. In fact the term is almost used in a derogatory sense.

There is never the term professionalism used or competent or if it is that translates as being not pretty. They are the other side of the coin as well where the henpecked Executive who is not allowed the pretty one but has to have Ethel the fifty years old maiden aunt type that can type more words a minute than the speed of sound. Its not a view we hold now. The role of secretary is replaced by the admin assistant today. The days of the mass typing pool are gone with most of us sat in pods and in an open plan office beavering away at our desks but unable to rise out of the pool by their own merits. Sad but true.

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