Saturday, April 16, 2005

And Furthermore!!!!

Replying to comments triggered Rant, the Sequel:

I am going to leave at the first good, high-paying job offer, just to get out of this ghetto, but I haven't heard any good offers and I'm not desperate enough to take a pay cut at this point. We've already had the filing discussion and I've been offered band-aid solutions of occasional help once again. Real boss does understand and is trying to come up with solutions for my "secretarialization," but frankly, it's just not enough.

Go to law school at night, Caroline? But I don't want to be a lawyer! I know what lawyers do and I like my job better. And the difference between what I make as a paralegal with over 15 years' experience and a "baby lawyer" is not enough to suffer through law school at this stage of my life.

That's part of the problem with finding a job at this level of experience - it's a coin toss between hiring me and an associate. I can get another job tomorrow, that's not the issue, but finding one at my experience and salary can take quite a while.

Oh, and here's the part of "The Secretarialization of Catherine" that really annoys -the erosion of my title and my position comes almost entirely from the admin women in the office. It's hard to explain without too much identifying detail, but I've found myself answering to two "scoring systems" - both created by the layer of useless henhouse bureaucracy that is the bane of our existence - and one of them is "secretarial," and at this I am putting my foot down, loudly. I was explicitly told when I was hired that this wouldn't happen, and yet while the lawyers are telling me, "Ignore that shit, it doesn't apply to you," the Head Secretary is up my ass about secretarial stuff, insisting that I have to comply - real boss did speak to her about it and she has backed off in recent weeks, but the damage is done. Women are the worst about issues like this - these Head Secretaries (not their real title, but that's all they are - and they don't even have real law firm backgrounds) have repeatedly referred to me as "Boss's Assistant" instead of by my title until it has become an issue. They do know better, they do it just because they can.

The lawyers aren't any happier with their lot in life in this place than I am, the discontent is heavy in the air and everybody with a brain wants out, but my particular issues were brought home to me by the Poodle's New Title. Where was that title when I had that job? I've never been aggressive enough about self-promotion but I've learned the hard way that arrogance wins over skill and being a "team player" every time. Being a "team player" gets you patted on the head and crapped on. I'm a slow learner about things like this, but this will never happen again. From now on, call me Senior Paralegal and World Class Bitch, and bow when you say it.

This is one of those issues that women have to deal with, a form of sexism in the workplace that is still alive and well (and generally inflicted by other women.) I have a story along the lines of the geologist who had to quit because they were giving her secretarial duties - I remember at my last job, visitors would walk past the office doors of three men to deliver Fed Exes and ask questions of our female structural engineer. Why? Because she was the first female face they saw in a construction office, therefore she must be the person who signs for the office supply delivery. It's SO hard to deal with this stuff every day, it'd be nice to just show up and do my job and feel respected for my education and experience and not have to fight for that respect and draw lines in the sand over titles, but that's not how it works.

Abrupt change of subject:

So, today I have to plow through my lengthy to-do list and rearrange my clutter, clearing out the Girlchild's room. And later I'll watch Finding Neverland, and maybe finish the kid-sized scarf in autumnal shades. I know colors influence moods, and I've decided that I could never work with colors like this on a large project, because it's boring me. It's pretty, but they are NOT my colors. Give me brights and jewel tones any day - even black, though it is neither a bright nor a jewel tone, doesn't bore me like this very pretty yet boring combination of browns and rusts and greens. I could go round and round a 4x4 ribbed hat in bright colors and get so addicted to the process I wanted to make more and more, but this simple scarf is boring the hell out of me - it has to be the colors. Just a quirk in my brain, I suppose.

More coffee, blog surfing, then off my ass to start rearranging clutter.


Geogrrl said...


Your comment reminds me of one what happened with one of our female biologists. This was back in days of yore, when I was the receptionist.

When someone was visiting from out of town, it wasn't unusual for them to finish with a meeting and ask me to call a cab for them to take them to the airport.

There were times when I would be away from my desk for whatever reason. In nearly every instance, if I wasn't there to guard the gates, visitors would walk PAST the cubicles of several male employees, to find D's cubicle, deep inside the office maze. Because D was the first female they would see, they would ask D to call a cab for them. Usually, D would politely but firmly give them a telephone book and direct them to a phone they could use.

However, D's patience was wearing thin.

In this particular instance, this guy came to D's cubicle and asked her if she would call him a taxi.

D looked up calmly from her work and said, "Poof. You're a taxi."

Catherine said...

Our problem was we had no receptionist - we were the regional exec office, we didn't have drop-in visitors, the only people who came to see us were by invitation and we escorted them. But we had a lot of wandering lost souls because we were on the first floor. My solution, after I watched the engineer get interrupted a half dozen times by people who were lost and looking for directions, etc., was to demand a sign for the door to our suite that said "See receptionist on 2nd floor." It was quite the study in social behavior, people would walk past three male architects to bother the female engineer. I had the office after hers, so if she was out they would find me. Poof! You're a taxi.