Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Why choosing a career that perpetuates stereotypes can challenge those stereotypes

I would like to highlight the fact that the reason there is no picture attached to this article is that all of the pictures that Google came up with were of women in high heels.  I personally feel that this reflects badly on all the male secretaries I've ever met who, without exception, would approach wearing high heels with absolute horror.

I have, over the last year, gone through a fairly momentous career change.  Having had no life as a teacher, I decided to quit in order to be able to focus on writing in my spare time.  Since then I’ve been working on a number of projects (including this blog, a pitch for one of the Nationals, a novel, a joint-podcast and a number of academic papers). 

Writing, however, very rarely pays the bills.

So I took a job, working as a school secretary.  Now, I love my job.  It’s busy, fast-paced, challenging (especially when having to walk the political tightrope in the staffroom) and I enjoy interacting with the huge number of people who come to the office every day (students, visitors, parents, inspectors, exam officers, the list goes on and on), but the pay could be better.

So I’ve started looking at some of the big firms in the city.

Now, there is a small part of me that wonders whether I might be perpetuating the stereotypes.  Some people can’t believe that, despite having two degrees and having given a paper on ‘Romeo and Juliet and the Cybertextual’ at an international conference, I still want to be an executive secretary.

But an executive secretary doesn’t just answer the phone.  They (because yes, there are male and female secretaries) have to be hyper-organised, understand the intricacies of the business world that they operate in, be able to write reports and have killer logistics.  There’s is so much more to administration than most people ever work out, and I enjoy that.

And to be perfectly honest, this entire blog is about challenging stereotypes.  I’m highly educated and yet adore Mills & Boon novels, Made in Chelsea and discussing the pros and cons of balconette bras.  And I am not ashamed of any of those things.  Everyone should have the option of choosing what they do, so I’m choosing to follow a career path which will be mentally stimulating and financially viable, in order to continue exploring my dreams.

Bring it.

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