Male Secretaries

Holy cow.
There’s an article in the April, 1964 “Today’s Secretary” entitled “Man With a Notebook” about men in secretarial jobs.  The woman who wrote it said things that really show how much our world has changed in terms of sexist thinking and language.
To wit:
“Females average $300 to $400, while males begin at $350 to $400.  They felt that this was true because ‘men have more stability, and can also handle certain situations more firmly’.” 
“Its president feels that men in the office are free of ‘sex-linked difficulties’, and are immune to the many employment problems presented by women.  Of women:  ‘When they are young, and presumably ‘man hunting’, there seems to be constant time lost in visits to the powder room and on the telephone.  Dates interfere.  When they are married, pregnancies, sick children, and unreliable baby sitters contribute to absenteeism.'”
“On the other hand, ‘Men can sit down and go to work because they are free to work.'”
“Businessmen gave the following reasons for preferring male secretaries:  ‘They are not governed by the hour law and may work overtime to the extent needed.’ ‘Men . . . often exhibit more stability, have better attendance, and display more physical stamina for prolonged periods of work in excess of eight hours.'”
“A man can deal better with men on their own level.”
“Men on the whole are less temperamental, more stable, and base their decisions more on facts.  Women can please more . . . “
Etc.  Just incredible.  There’s also some discussion about the fact that a male secretary can “travel with the boss” without certain unspecified “problems” occurring.
One of the men profiled worked in my state, and has a telephone number in a nearby city . . . I’m tempted to call him and see how his “secretarial career” turned out.

(by alex for everyone)


7 comments Add yours
  1. OK, this response didn't seem to take so, I'll state it again.

    Fresh with my college degree in 1978 (and having a "useful" degree in psychology), I decided to become a male secretary. The thinking I found was nothing like what the article seems to describe.

    "You want to be a what?!" was the most common question the then-called Personnel Office would ask me. One legal firm said I'd have to sue them–despite my excellent skills–to work there as a secretary. During an interview, one high-level executive said, "I want a buxom blonde I can chase around the desk and you're NOT her."



  2. Just my own 2 cents:   In 1990 I worked temporarily as the secretary to the president of a large urban hospital. After I trained my successor, I worked for all of the VP's while their secretaries were on vacation.   All of the male VP's and the male president told their secretaries that they liked me and thought I did excellent work, but they wouldn't hire me as their secretary because I was a man.   1964 is a very very long time ago! I remember it well, but not all that fondly.   Billy (sidhetaba)

  3. Reverse discrimination is always an emotional hotbutton issue. Male elementary school teachers quite often experience it. But in a discussion of particular situations, no matter how unjust or at the least unfair they seem, what gives balance to the discussion is to be clear on what is referred to in legal terms as Suspect Class. The term means a group of people who are victims of discrimination by a society because of their race, gender, religion, perceived orientation, physical limitations, etc. Therefore, males who enjoy the more empowered situation as a class over females, sometimes fall victim to situations that result from negative male chauvinism stereotyping, as to role playing in society. Empowered whites bemoan Miss Black America, that sort of thing. The point is when a member of the empowered group falls victim to the discriminatory practices of that group, it is not the same as, nor does that person really know what it is like to be a member of the suspect class that is culturally and institutionally discriminated against, often without legal recourse. DOC  

  4. Dear Alex and friends
    Ref your horror at 1960s sexism with the treatment of female secretaries – I was selected by a man because he always reduced his (very competent) female secretaries to tears due to his temper and demands.

    I wanted to become a Court Reporter and I took the job to gain experience and also survive. I found it just as difficult as any woman would have, and although I did not cry, I did suffer just as much as anyone else would have. Another place, a shipping company, felt it improper for ladies to be down at the wharves at night, just as it is probably unwise for them nowadays, although we can all be hit over the head. As far as endurance goes, I found that the women stenos were able to work for 12 hours upwards and still keep shining, while the rest of us groaned along.

    I had about four years as a steno and because I was interested in the subject matter, many men liked working with me because I asked questions, would discuss things, and, learning from that, understood and avoided errors, and corrected their work. I told my boss that I would transcribe what he had meant to say, and he thought that was wonderful.

    I loved being a steno but was forced to try other things later on. Thinking back to the 60's though, remember my bosses would have grown up in the 30s, affected by the Great Depression and all that difficulty. Men were expected to support their wives, and the girls could not wait to get married at (21?) and start their families. And in those days families started whether you wanted them to or not! You can't say that family responsibilities don't cause disruption to anyone's work career, male or female, but at least now we recognise how important it is, and are more willing to share the burden around a bit.


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