We often hear about women struggling to be taken seriously in male dominated professions, such as IT and construction – however, it’s worth bearing in mind that 42% of Male Secretaries, Personal Assistants and Executive Assistants have also been subjected to inaccurate gender stereotypes in the workplace.
Male EAs and PAs from across the globe were asked about gender stereotyping in a survey for the Executive and Personal Assistants Association’s ‘Not just a girl’s job’ campaign.
The results of EPAA’s survey showed that 42% of participants* had experienced negative comments from colleagues based on inaccurate gender stereotypes. The issues raised by survey participants ranged from colleagues questioning their ability to perform the role to a satisfactory standard because of their gender, to people making assumptions about their sexuality because of the outdated cultural stereotype of the EA/PA role being a ‘feminine’ career choice. This stereotype is one that EPAA are keen to address.
“At EPAA, we believe a better gender ratio will make for an enriched profession and our mission is simple” said Victoria Darragh, Chief Executive of the Executive and Personal Assistants Association. “We want to inspire boys and men to consider the profession as a credible career choice and remove some of the stereotypes associated with the roles under the administrative umbrella.”
According to EA/PA industry statistics, the gender split within the profession is currently around 97% female vs. 3% male for the UK (quoted as 98% vs 2% globally), but there are signs of positive change within the industry. The survey results supported this, with over 51% of participants stating that they actively chose to work within the administrative profession despite the stereotypes associated with it, and a third of those questioned stating that they have worked within the field for over 12 years.
EPAA believes that these numbers could be boosted by greater acknowledgement of the achievements of Male EAs and PAs, helping to make them more visible as positive role models for young men considering a career in the industry.
One survey participant, Shirwyn Weber, an Executive Assistant from South Africa, clearly conveyed the attitude that EPAA are hoping to make commonplace through their ‘Not just a girl’s job’ campaign:
‘If you feel that you want to get into this career as a PA/EA, do it… It is the most challenging and fulfilling position ever. People will stereotype ever (sic) position out there. It’s our time to show that we, as males, can be award-winning, industry leading assistants.’