I found another old post that I can tweak and make a whole series with. It originally was a post from 2017 as I was about to attend the IAAP Summit in New Orleans. But wait until you see what happened to me today in the updating of the content!
Most of us who are Virtual Assistants come from a background of having worked in administrative support roles for other companies or organizations, and decided to go into business for ourselves. There are some that haven’t worked in positions with that kind of title, but just have the skills a VA needs to succeed as well. But a lot of us were an admin for The Man and decided to ditch The Man.
Being an admin can be a rewarding and frustrating career path. For a long time, there was no one to advocate for the people in this important role. So in 1942 in Kansas City, MO, the National Secretaries Association (NSA) was formed. A few years later, some Canadians joined the association, and the name was changed to Professional Secretaries International (PSI) to reflect there were more than just US citizens in the group. In 1998, responding to massive and rapid changes in job functions and the titles they were being given, the organization changed its name to the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). The changing job titles were coming about through an effort to more accurately describe what the person was doing, as well as a desire to have a term that distanced itself from some awful stereotypes (which, fortunately, were also being addressed through much more stringent HR policies).
I’ll talk a lot more about this in Part II of this series, but there are lots of good and bad things to go through in this role. First, I’d like to discuss something that I did not know was still in existence, but to my shock and anger, found that it is.
WARNING: This section contains material that will offend everyone (well, I HOPE it offends everyone).
You read that right. I want you to be offended by what you’re about to see.
Stereotypes of admins are rampant. Male admins are usually assumed to be gay (who cares if they are or are not?), admins in general are assumed to have lower IQs than everyone else in the office, and thanks to movies and TV shows up through the 1980s, admins were assumed to have “receive Boss Man’s sexual advances” as a job requirement. I thought that stereotype had been done away with, but today I found otherwise.
I did a search on Pixabay for admin photos, and very little showed up. I tried again, searching for secretary.” I got some decent pics – like the one above and the one you will see at the end of the post – but one really terrible one. It was this one right here. It contained the tags “adult,” “female,” “woman,” “sexy,” “office” and “secretary.”
Do whut??????? Can you believe someone thinks this is a pic of a secretary?
There are clearly still some disgusting men out there that still think the secretary is a waste of office space that exists only to be the boss man’s personal sex toy. I thought all these cave-dwellers had finally died off. Apparently not. Un-freaking-believable.
I very quickly sent an email to Pixabay requesting the “office” and “secretary” tags be taken off this pic. (I also tried to share it with the VA mastermind, and my finger had barely risen off of my mouse after clicking “submit” when the moderator ordered me to delete it. Oops.)
Let’s get back to the job titles. Some colleagues at my last corporate job would occasionally ask, “why do secretaries want to be called admins” or something to that effect. I would mention the stereotypes mentioned above, and emphasize that admins are every bit as much “professional” as the engineers, accountants, marketing gurus, and everyone else in the office. As for me, I would add, I don’t care what they call me as long as they pay me.
That still holds true today. Call me what you want – virtual admin, virtual secretary, writer, blogger, dufus – I really don’t care as long as you pay me what’s stated in our contract. I’m just not wrapped up in words and titles. I have skills, I want to use them to help others, build great partnerships, and get paid what I need to take care of myself and my family. As long as the client who hired me and I are pleased with the partnership and our objectives are being realized, that’s what really matters.
But c’mon, don’t post pictures of women who work on a pole for a living with a “secretary” tag on them. That’s not too much for us admins to ask.