secretaryThe top job for women in 1950 was a secretary position. The top job for women today?

A secretary position.

Although the title of “secretary” has evolved into administrative staff and executive assistant roles, the duties and laborers have remained the same for more than 50 years. According to the U.S. Census, nearly 4 million workers in the United States had jobs categorized under “secretaries and administrative assistants” between 2006 and 2010.

96% of the people who possessed these jobs were women. This means women outnumber men 20 to 1 — even though they still take home smaller paychecks than their male counterparts. The average salary for full-time female administrative assistants was $34,304 in 2010. Men earned slightly more at $39,641.

Times have changed and allowed women to mobilize themselves socially through higher education and experience in underrepresented fields. However, Ray Weikal, a spokesman for the International Association of Administrative Professionals, says that the reason why the secretary position is still a prominent role for many businesses is interestingly enough because of the expansion of technology.

“Every time a major new technology showed up, there were always predictions that this would spell the end of secretaries,” Weikal told CNN Money. “You saw that with the development of electric typewriters, the personal computer, and the Internet, but every time technology gets more efficient, the amount of business increases. You continue to need people who can use those tools.”

Although the glass ceiling continues to crack across various industries, it still doesn’t seem like the rate of women being employed for secretarial positions will change anytime soon. The Labor Department predicts that administrative staff roles will continue to grow by 12% between 2010 and 2010, adding close to 493,000 jobs within the next ten years.

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  • I’ve been doing secretarial work for over ten years. The job really hasn’t changed, and the wages haven’t changed either. They’re pretty stagnant. What has changed, however, is requirements for the job. A job that once required at most a high school diploma and a bit of experience now REQUIRES a college degree. I’ve seen job postings requesting MASTER’S DEGREES. A big part of this, of course, is that we’re in a recession so employers can ask for the moon. But I also think it’s one of the clearest examples of how a college degree is becoming the equivalent of a high school diploma, only vastly more expensive. More and more jobs that should be entry level are requiring college degrees, and thus keeping people out of them OR saddling them with ridiculous amounts of debt.

    • EST. 1986

      I see job postings every week for entry-level clerical positions that require a degree.

  • Mademoiselle

    I wouldn’t call this “the top job for women.” It’s the job most biased towards women. The top job for women would be the field that hires the greatest percentage of women out of the total population of women. Otherwise, calling this the top job for women is like calling coal mining the top job for men. You’re talking about less than 3% of the female population being secretaries, though — hardly the top job in my opinion.

  • Rue


  • The required college degree is beneficial to the employer because the employee whom holds that degree can and will go beyond the scope of secretary/administrative staff duties. I know because I am in that position right now and have been for 10 years.

    • EST. 1986

      I am still working on my degree, but in just about every job I have had, I performed duties outside of my role and was better at a job than someone who had their degree.