The Assistant Role: Not Just a Girl’s Job

This post may seem somewhat baffling written by a woman, campaigning for something that is absolutely to do with men but it is a campaign that must be heard.

Did you know in the UK, we have one of the worst professional gender splits? it goes a little something like this… 97% female vs 3% male!

We are only marginally better than the global split, which is 98% female to 2% male.

It’s a feminine role right? WRONG!

Can you imagine being a man and walking into a networking event, where you are literally, possibly the ONLY man in the room? Well this does and is happening in the Assistant profession and for as long as I can remember.

While we are seeing lots of wonderful green shoots on the female agenda and our quest to achieve fairness (although we still have a way to go), we realised in the PA profession we have a diversity problem of our own and this now needs to be addressed and tackled.

I have known since I was young there were very little in the way of men in the profession I had chosen but I also knew that as a PA, I would likely be supporting mostly men during my career too.

If you look back at the history of Assistants/Secretary’s, you will indeed find it was men that undertook the roles before us women and how roles have reversed over time. This profession certainly has some interesting history….

Those familiar with the PA profession know the role is very stereotyped and the perception of what an EA/PA does is somewhat flawed. As a man you could almost say you would see double the amount of stereotyping, one for being a PA and then secondly because it is largely women that undertake these roles.

To be a great PA takes great skill and guess what? Not every woman can do it! I have lots of female friends who know they would never last a minute in the roles I undertook as a PA. So it’s ludicrous to suggest that this role is only for women.

I have worked with some of the most excellent male assistants throughout my career and have been proud to do so. These men have added an enormous amount of talent to our profession, some of them ridiculed by friends/family and work colleagues for doing so…

At EPAA we are seeking to challenge the overall perception of Assistants, whilst in turn also making it easier and more inviting for men to come into the profession.

Our profession will certainly be enriched with a better gender balance, along with a whole heap of other benefits this will bring.

Our Deputy Chair of EPAA’s General Advisory Board Sean Steel and fellow board member Craig Bryson are leading this very special campaign with me, as well as numerous EPAA members.

We absolutely realise this is something that will not happen overnight, after all we have been heavily female dominated for well over 60 years as a profession!

In recent years we have seen more male assistants come to events or put themselves forward for awards, and in one case even winning but it is still not nearly enough.

Our ‘Not just a girl’s job’ campaign will directly tackle assumptions and perceptions of a man undertaking the Assistant role.

We will seek to also ensure better representation of male assistants throughout the industry and this includes visual images across the industry (almost always of women), along with things like job adverts being written in a more neutral language (less her and she) and so much more… We have much work to do!

If you are a male Assistant or know/work with any male Assistants, who might like to get involved in our campaign, please make yourselves known. We would be delighted to have you join us.

EPAA is pleased to be leading one of the most exciting campaigns to come from the PA profession in recent years…

Because folks its #Notjustagirlsjob

Written by Victoria Darragh, www.epaa.org.uk