Here’s an interesting column about Mad Men where the writer talks about how she romanticizes the job of secretary in the 60’s after watching the show.
It’s twisted, but watching the heckled, thwarted women of Mad Men made me want to be a better assistant, and not (only) because I wanted to dress like them. I wanted to be them. On the surface at least—and surface was powerful in those days—these women (even the secretaries) are femme fatales.
Personally, I know a lot of great administrative assistants who are smart and extremely competent at their job, but for me I could never do it.
I actually started my career out as an assistant and it just didn’t work. I’m too opinionated for one, and very rebellious. Oddly enough, the better I performed in that job the more I was resented by my boss. He didn’t want me to be any better at anything than I needed to be. And he wanted to nitpick about things that didn’t matter. My wardrobe was often criticized. How Mad Men is that? Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a flashy dresser. The criticisms were a lack of nylons and I was told once that I dressed like a postman. Looking back the fact that all of the executives were men should have tipped me off but I guess I didn’t have Mad Men, this was the year 2000, to know what I was getting into.
Just one of the final straws was when I designed a database application that saved collectively 10 hours of time per week from other employees. The male executives took my design and passed it off as their own. I was sitting there in the meeting watching them do it and I couldn’t believe it.
After quitting because I couldn’t take it anymore, I turned down other administrative jobs to take a lowly data entry position. I felt that I wanted to work on something which I owned. Something that wasn’t boosting someone else but actually belonged to me. 9 7 years later I’m a database specialist and programmer. My strategy worked.