Mrs. B

"Just because someone is there to support another person's work does not mean that she should be treated like a slave, a moron, or a piece of furniture."

Agreed with this! Supporting another's work doesn't mean you're stupid or incapable...w/o the support the person probably couldn't do HALF of what they do!


A friend of mine who is a young (late 20s) female attorney has found that saying she's an attorney does not necessarily get her any respect. She does some criminal work, and she's found that jail guards harass her and refuse to believe that she's actually an attorney. Apparently she doesn't "look like a lawyer." Whatever THAT means.


As a nurse, I have always been treated with respect. Once in awhile I would have a rough patient that would hit on me or something and the doctors and guards would always defend me. I think how you carry yourself really does a lot on how you are treated with respect or not. If a guy cracks a dirty joke, don't laugh at it. you will go up quite a few notches on his respect scale. I found that if you treat yourself with respect most of the time you will be treated with respect.



I have a mechanical engineering degree and worked in that field for about 10 years. Often, I was the only female in the engineering department. Many times I was mistaken by outside vendors, suppliers, coworkers, etc. for either a receptionist, or a drafter (there are not as many female drafters, either, so there's another interesting angle to this prejudice). Calling vendors and suppliers to specify components, I could of course ask for exactly what I wanted with all the appropriate details, and yet be answered (by someone who should be trying to win my business) to speak with the engineer.

It was aggravating to have to convince these people that yes, I'm the decision-maker, and interesting (and maddening) to see the sudden shift in attitude towards me. Being a professional did somehow entitle me to more respect in these people's eyes. But being a woman meant to them that more likely I was there to serve their needs in a lower position.


I was constantly mistaken for a secretary when I was in sales; I don't really blame the guys who made that error because they had never seen a woman sales person, so obviously it was going to take time.

However, I must say that the problem with being taken for a secretary is not that there is something "wrong" with being a secretary (any more than there's something "wrong" with being a SAHM), but that people STILL make the immediate connection that a woman in business == secretary; there's no room in their imagination for her to be anything else. And in the same breath, they'll immediately assume that nice young man behind the desk is the new junior exec, even though HE's the 'executive assistant'. Again, no room in their imagination for a man in business to be in anything but an upwardly mobile position. (my assistant was a man, and that happened every single day-- to our amusement)

THAT's what's frustrating, and it's the point so many people miss when they say, "So? What's wrong with being a secretary?"

And yes, your point about the mistreatment of secretaries is well made; I've seen it too often. My mother told me when I got my first job, "Be good to the secretary and the janitor; they're the only people who know what's going on." She was right.


I am a female drafter for a very small civil engineering firm. It's so small that occasionally I have to answer the phone too. Sometimes people will call and ask something about a drawing and I'll say "I'm the drafter, maybe I can help you." They usually come back with, "yah, let me talk to him." Huh?
However, my husband is the office manager/secretary/receptionist and people are always asking him engineering questions before he has a chance to tell them he's just the guy that answers the phone.


I'm a woman who does some tech support - more than once, I've been told by clients that I obviously can't fix their problem and they want to talk to a man. Frustrating, but since the only tech support people in our office much of the time are women, gender discrimination means their computer problems don't get resolved. Serves them right, as far as I'm concerned.


I work in a landscaping business at the order desk. I am a secretary, who went to school. But forget that, I get the "pity you" treatment or you-don't-know-anything-where's-the-manager? talk and the cut-me-a-deal,-girl speak. So I get screamed at by customers for "cutting them short X yds of soil" even when proper amounts are delivered. Or "Can't you do any better on the price?" I get the crap on my end when the yard crew "forget" or don't care about their job. They phone me. I have to fix all problems and try to tell people that we're already finished with our donations this year. We really are, and I sincerely feel bad about it, too! The 3 phone lines never stop ringing for the whole summer season. Yes, I also get that "where's a guy around here?" said to my face at least weekly. I feel exactly the same way as you do,Bkwyrm, when "the guy around here" is out on delivery (and honestly, he won't know as I put all the data in. I can only smile to myself, as I tell the person that the guy will be in around ... I could go on..... I live it all over when I get home. Poor treatment, it really gets to the morale. I must deserve better in life, somewhere.

The Happy Feminist

aargh- it sounds like no fun. I think my all time favorite line when I was a temp was, "Can I please talk to someone with a BRAIN?" And of course I did spend the rest of the day stewing about it.


I'm a professional, award-winning technical and business writer; but I get sucked into taking meeting notes, making photocopies and passing along messages from the boss to his direct reports (because it's "beneath" him to pick up a phone or walk over to the guy and communicate himself).

I've come to the conclusion that these men disguise their ineptitude as superiority in an attempt to hide the fact that they're illiterate, lazy and don't know how to use simple office machines.

I marvel at the fact that they pay me six figures to spend 90% of my day doing junior-level clerk-typist work. Then I spend the other 10% of my day looking for a job in a more modern, sophisticated organization where all my skills will be put to better use.

Sad and frustrating!

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