This International Women’s Day, I have a wish. It’s much smaller and easier to accomplish than the other wishes I have like being able to walk down the street in the summer without being catcalled, for a wage gap that is shrinking rather than expanding, and, as my friend Marina writes, for women to commit to supporting and promoting one another. I simply want you to stop calling me a secretary.
People stopped using this word for a while, but it’s back. I have been hearing it a lot more in recent years. People are calling me this to my face and I’ve even been introduced as one. That needs to stop.
Legal Assistants and Executive Assistants are not secretaries. Every Legal Assistant and Executive Assistant who is any good, does a job that goes well beyond a title that very inaccurately conveys their role. Most of the tasks that make up my day are not secretarial and just because you can’t understand what that means, doesn’t mean you get to call me a secretary. The term itself is so outdated even the often slow to change industry of law stopped using it over a decade ago.
Try searching for “secretary” on Workopolis. The top several hits this morning, with the very notable exception of the province of Alberta who apparently still loves the term (care to join us in 2016, Alberta?) are for “receptionist.” Which also, FYI, is not a “secretary.”
My boss sometimes sends out her own Outlook invitations and turns her own documents. Is she a secretary? No, she is a senior partner. Some of our clients and consultants don’t have assistants and do all of their own document production and scheduling. Does that make them secretaries? Nope. They are CEOs, managers, leaders in every right.
Every role requires administration. Call me what I am.