Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Secretary's day

I'm grumpy today. I have no real excuse, since Charlotte slept soundly from about 11pm until we woke her up this morning at 7. She actually went down around 8:30, but my husband had to go in and comfort her once or twice before 11. In anycase, she slept and I slept, and yet I feel like a zombie. Since I'm in such a chipper mood, I thought I'd pose a very grumpy question.

Why on earth is there a Secretary (Office Administrator, whatever your title is) day? Why do people feel the need to buy these people flowers? It's not that I don't appreciate the work they do--They coordinate meetings, make travel arrangements, and probably a lot of other things that don't impact me directly (since I'm not any sort of executive, no one answers my phone or mail or helps arrange my schedule or anything like that). But that's their job. These people (mainly women, but not always), are paid to do these things. I'm sure that there are secretaries, sorry, office administrators who run personal errands for their bosses as well. And they are reputed to keep track of things like their (male) wives' birthdays.

I guess the old stereotype is that a secretary is much like a wife/mother, except that she takes care of the office and employees not the house and the kids (I did mention "old" stereotype here). Is that why people buy flowers for them? Because you buy flowers for your mom once a year, and your secretary works just as hard? Except that you don't pay your mom, but you do pay your secretary. It's true that secretaries don't usually make as much as some other professions (like software developers...yes, that's me...I am fully aware of the hole I'm digging right now), so they get compensated with a card instead? Hmm...

I can't think of a single male-dominated field (or traditionally male-dominated field, no matter the modern male:female ratio) where employees have a special day including gifts and cards from their coworkers. If there is one, please let me know :) Feminism and women's lib and all that are supposed to be so, well, part of our mother's and grandmother's generation. Modern working women are supposed to expect equal pay and equal treatment for their work, and there shouldn't still be "women's work" that is somehow inferior to "men's work". Why, in this modern era, then, are we still need a Secretary's day?

Or at least, why isn't there a Software Developer's Day? Accountant's day? Postal Worker's day (note I did not say "mailman")? Doctor's day (there is a Nurse's day, another traditionally female profession).. Where are the flowers and cards for the rest of us, in thanks for doing our job? Oh wait, last Thursday was payday....

1 comment:

Sarahlynn said...

I think it depends on the corporate culture. Around here, everyone starts as an assistant and works her or his way up.

So the person who's shipping all my boxes to a convention and taking notes at team meetings . . . has a Master's degree from Georgetown.

We thank our assistants by taking them out for a treat on administrative assistant's day because we think they're just like us . . .

Except that they get paid less and do the work that we don't want to do.

We also share our bonuses with them every year, since they're not eligible to earn bonuses. And hopefully they'll do the same one day when they're managers with assistants of their own.