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New Technology and Office Tradition: The Not-So-Changing World of the Secretary MARY C. MURPHREE THE NEW TECHNOLOGY AND THE SECRETARY Electronic word and data processing a multibillion dollar business made possible by the invention and mass production of the m~crochi~is invading the American office. Few work envi- ronments are immune to the temptations of the fast, cheap, and effective automated office equipment now available. Organizations ranging from Fortune 500 corporations, law and accounting firms, public agencies, hospitals, and universities to small businesses and professional partnerships are experimenting with data- and word- processing equipment on a scale scarcely imaginable 10 or even 5 years ago (U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1985~. The emergence of the modern office a century ago, its techno- Togical evolution to mid-century, and even its impact on women's employment have been documented by historians (Baker, 1964; Davies, 1982; Oeirich, 1968; I,ockwood, 1958~. The current phase of technological revolution, particularly its effects on American office workers, calls for further documentation. This paper examines the impact of office technology on the secretarial occupation. It analyzes how the current revolution in 98
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MARY C. MURPHREE 99 office organization intersects with changes in secretarial attitudes and demographics and with an office culture traditionally based on gender. It argues that the persistence of patrimonial authority in secretary-boss relations, combined with new staffing ratios (when each secretary is assigned to work for more and more bosses), determine to a far greater extent than technology itself—the work life of the word-processing secretary. History teaches us that technological change whether in the form of the steam engine, electricity, or the automobile never occurs in a vacuum and that its effects on social organization cannot be understood as random or idiosyncratic events. Nor are its costs and benefits shared equally by all members of society. Rather, much of industrial history depends on the interaction of technology with prevailing social, demographic, and political conditions in a particular era. The introduction of word and data processing into the office of the 1980s, and its impact on the secretary, is no exception. Although there is no one way to define the word "secretary," particularly in this period of transition or "shakeout," ~ use a definition that relates both to the social characteristics of the job (e.g., the authority or superior-subordinate structure) and to the tasks characteristic of the job (e.g., the division of labor). My fo- cus will be entirely on what ~ call the "word-processing secretary." This is a clerical person working on a decentralized m~crocom- puter or terminal who is formally assigned as support staff to one or more principals, with whom she is in daily personal contact and for whom she performs some combination of clerical tasks (e.g., text and data entry, editing, filing, copying, or stenography) and administrative or managerial services (e.g., gatekeeping, co- ordinating, planning, letter drafting). Such a secretary is distinct from a word-processing operator who works at a video display ter- minal (VDT) in a large, centralized facility and who is exclusively charged with word and data production." 7 ~ ~ B~ ~ ~ Currently, there are no data indicating how many word-processing secretaries versus word-processing operators there are in the United States, nor how many workers use particular types of word-processing equipment. Such distinctions should be made in future data-collection efforts. Companies with word-processing centers continue to employ large numbers of secretaries who work in decentralized settings. An increasing number of companies are mooring to decentralize their clerical operations entirely.
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100 NEW TECHNOLOGYAND OFFICE TRADITION The secretarial occupation is the largest and most catholic of women's occupations, employing some 4 million women. Secre- taries are widely distributed among industries, professions, and throughout government, in offices of every size, and in towns and metropolitan areas across the United States. Recently, the occupation has experienced tremendous growth, although it has not ridded itself of its traditional sex-stereotyping. Since 1950, secretarial-typ~st employment has more than tripled. The compo- sition of the secretarial labor force has also changed. Since the 1970s, the number of minority women has increased dramatically; between 1970 and 1980 the number of black women secretaries increased 148 percent, while the number of secretaries of Spanish origin increased 131 percent (U.S. Department of Labor, 198 1985~. And, like the female labor force in general, there are more working mothers, more mothers with preschool children, more sin- gle heads of households, and more women who plan to be a part of the paid labor force on a sustained basis. The secretary's relationship to technology, on which this paper focuses, has also changed significantly. The secretary now interacts with sophisticated, computer-based office systems and electronic typewriters as well as with the familiar telephone, copy machine, and dictaphone.2 A wave of publicity heralded the introduction of these gym tems and may have contributed to raping the expectations of many secretaries. Employers, eager to sell their support staffs on the new equipment, have repeated vendor and media clanns and waxed enthusiastic about the benefits that office automation offers 2 Innovations and improvements in office technologies have essentially been incremental since the 1870s (see Strom, this volume). Model after model of typewriters, calculators, dictaphones, telephones, and duplica- tars have been designed with an end to making them more efficient, less costly, and more marketable. For example, the original beeswax and paraffin ~Graphaphone. dictating machine, powered by a sewing machine treadle, was replaced at the turn of the century by a solid wax recording medium with a shaver making it erasable. This in turn was made obsolete by an electronic desk model that appeared in 1936, and that, by World War II, was equipped with a flexible Dictabelt and transistors. Finally, by the 1970s the dictating and transcribing units had been combined into a single small unit; small magnetic cassette tapes were available, and remote Hoff premises telephone transmission was developed. Similarly, improvements in carbon paper streamlined early duplicating tasks alongside mimeograph machines and stencils, which went through dozens of design innovations until the entire duplicating market genre way to the photocopying process.
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MARY C. MURPHREE 101 secretaries. Employment agencies and secretarial schools eager to supply their clients with willing and trainable personnel have urged secretaries and prospective secretaries to acquire the new skills quickly so that they too can reap the benefits awaiting them in the electronic office. Many secretaries interpret this enthusiasm and encouragement to mean that all office work has become "high tech and expect that they wiD be given a chance to do challenging work, sharpen their skills, earn better pay, and move up in their organizations. Preliminary evidence indicates, however, that there is a serious disjuncture between what secretaries have been led to expect from the automated office and what many feel they are actually getting. Particularly at risk in this scenario are minority and older women. Understanding the effects of office automation on secretaries is difficult for several reasons. First, it ~ not clear whether sup- ply, declining cost, and marketing of new office technologies are driving the push toward office reorganization or whether factors such as increasing labor costs, a shortage of skilled and willing women clericals, and management fears of clerical unionization are stimulating the demand for office automation (Murphree, 1984b). Second, as pointed out above, the term "secretary" has no gener- aBy accepted meaning, but rather ~ a catch-all word for a person performing a variety of clerical, administrative, and personal tasks (Watstein, 1985~. The term Office, moreover, Is just as ambigu- ous and encompasses myriad shapes and forms. There are large offices and small ones, headquarters and branches, public-sector sites and private-sector sites. An office can also have different occupational or industrial cultures: it can be a profession e] office (e.g., the doctor's office) or a sales office tied to a particular in- dustry (the brokerage office). The Formation process itself can also take a multitude of forms. For example, hardware and soft- ware systems can vary according to how ~multifunctional" they are (i.e., the number of tasks they are capable of performing). Systems can also be more or less interactive. They range from highly integrated, advanced information systems to stand-alone micro and personal computers. They may also vary in the extent to which they are "networked to each other or a larger computer (Spinrad, 1982~. Research also indicates that diffusion of the new technology is occurring at a fast but by no means uniform pace (Kelly Services, 1982~.
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102 NE W TECHNOLOG Y AND OFFICE TRADITION Until very recently, most discussions have focused on the general "goodness" or "badness" of word processing (Murphree, 1984a). Vendors and their partisans extolled its promise—to lib- erate secretaries and turn them into high-tech managers—while critics feared it would reduce secretaries to robots or extensions of machines, if not eliminate them altogether. These simplistic ideas are being discarded as a growing corpus of research on office automation illuminates its complexities. Experts have now begun to distinguish among different kinds of word-processing arrange- ments and stress the differential effects these arrangements have upon clericals (Pomfrett et al., 1984; Feldberg and Glenn, 1983~. At the crudest level a contrast is drawn between word processing that is centralized in pools, on the one hand, and that which is decentralized to satellite stations, on the other (Johnson et al, 1985; lacono and Kling, 1984; Murphree, 1984a; Werneke, 1984; Menzies, 1981~. In the former, an organization's word-processing functions are all located in a single work site or word-processing center. In clecentralized word processing, satellite units are dis- tributed throughout the organization. Inherent in this distinction is a focus on the difference between word-processing "operators," who perform VDT work at the centers under the supervision of a manager, and the word-processing secretaries who concern us here, i.e., secretaries working at satellite VDT terminals in face-to-face relations with principals or bosses to whom they are assigned. Some research examines the sequential phases of the inte- gration process (Giuliano, 1982; Gery, 1982) and the effect of office automation on different occupational groups (Kanter, 1983; Bjorn-Andersen, 1983~. Westin et al. (1985), for example, focus on customer service representatives, data-entry clerks, and clerical- secretarial employees. Bikson and Gutek (1983) analyze the vari- ety of activities and complexities of the tasks performed by dif- ferent white-colIar work groups (including secretaries) who share an information-handling function. Johnson et al. (1985) refine the centralized-decentralized theme by discussing different forms of integration of information processing into organizations and their consequences for organizations. The ergonomic arrangement of different settings has also received attention in the literature. Finally, researchers have attempted to evaluate the success and problems encountered in the use of different staffing arrangements with word-processing equipment (Pomfrett et al., 19843.3 This paper develops a focus omitted by other analysts, namely,
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MARY C. MURPHREE 103 the strong gender-based authority relations and patrimonial orga- nization through which word-processing secretaries are linked to their superiors, and by which, traditionally, the nature of their tasks, prestige, wage levels, opportunities for mobility, and, hence, job satisfaction have been determined. 4 The discussion that follows is divided into four sections. Wher- ever possible, the analysis discusses the experience of minority women, who make up a growing proportion of word-processing users, and of older women secretaries, whose work patterns are subject to the greatest disruption. The first section examines the patrimonial form of social organization that has traditionally char- acterized secretarial work. The second section discusses the new breed of secretary produced by a changing labor force supply and by women's changing expectations concerning their rewards and rights on the job. The third section explores how technology affects secretarial expectations and experiences in the new office particu- larly through changes in "staffing ratios" (e.g., private secretaries versus shared secretaries versus team or minipoo} secretaries). The fourth section argues that patrimony not only persists in the new once, but when combined with new staffing ratios also accounts in important ways for the lack of challenge, responsibility, and opportunity to move up in the job that many secretaries are ex- periencing. The section ends with a discussion of other variables such as size of office and organization, resources and wealth of the 3 Pomfrett et al. (1984) offer a useful typology of the possible permuta- tions of principal/secretary social organization, as well as a report on the satisfaction and dissatisfaction of the different groups and individuals. They also identify equality of supervisions as an important variable for operator (read secretarial) satisfaction, especially where pool scenarios are concerned. The study does not deal with gender questions nor with the patrimonial aspects of word-processing secretarial jobs. 4 My analysis draws heavily on case studies and survey data reported by vendors and by researchers in academia, unions, private research-firms, and women's advocate organizations. It also uses interviews and case studies conducted by the author with secretaries in a variety of industries, including law firms, government agencies, universities, and broadcasting. Systematic research, however, on secretarial subtypes (by socioeconomic status, industry, size of firm) does not exist and should become a research priority for policy makers concerned with understanding the changes taking place.
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104 NE W TECHNOL O G Y A ND OFFI CE TRA DI TI ON firm, and industry or service in which the firm engages, which may influence changes and rewards in the secretarial occupation. The final section brings together my conclusions. PATRIMONY IN TRADITIONAL SECRETARIAL WORK ~aditionaDy the secretarial role has been understood as a support role with the subordinate performing a variety of admin- istrative, clerical, and personal tasks for a superior. For the last century, women have been secretaries while men have been princi- pals. The classic description of this role was provided by Rosabeth M. Kiter (1977) in her pioneering work, Men and Women of the Corporation. Focusing on the secretarial role in the structure of a large organization called INDISCO, Kanter analyzed the pat- rimonia] nature of the role relationship between secretaries and their principab. Using Weber's definition of patrimony as a guide, and the "Iord-vamal" mode} as metaphor, she identified three am pects of the traditional boss-secretary relationship: (1) principled arbitrariness (secretaries have no job description but rather are subject to the arbitrary power of a boss who, within limits of fair practice set by Principled or tradition, can make whatever job request of a secretary he chooses); (2) fealty (an emphasis on loyalty and The personal in boss-secretary relations, such that symbolic, emotional, and nonutilitarian rewards become substi- tutes for economic ones); (3) status contingency (the fact that secretaries derive their status from the rank and power of their bosses). Each impacts in varying degrees on secretarial tasks and on the secretary's access to better pay and mobility. TRADITIONAL SECRETARIAL TASKS Secretarial tasks are generally defined by a principal or boss who has a great deal of latitude and personal authority In de- termining what a secretary does. Typically, a secretary and boss carve out a personal set of procedures and understandings con- cerning what tasks the secretary will perform. The organization provides only the merest skeleton for the structure of the secre- tary's job. One boss may delegate challenging and creative work to a secretary. His successor may delegate nothing. The secretary's work is also characterized by a constant flow of orders with no routinized schedule. Typically she must respond "to momentary
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MARY C. MURPHREE 105 demands and immediate requests generated on the spot" (Kanter, 1977:79~. Traditionally the secretary acts as a kind of "office wife," performing an array of personal and socioemotional services for her boss. These may include listening to his troubles, performing office housekeeping duties, running personal errands outside the office, or even granting sexual favors (Kanter, 1977:79~813. The secretary must also act as a buffer between the boss and the outside world. This includes acting as a Gatekeeper (screen- ing calb and visitors), as well as assisting the boss In presenting a certain front to the organization or world. As ~ wrote about legal secretaries in my 1977 case study (Murphree 1984a: 1423: Essentially skilled ageneralists,n legal secretaries have tradi- tionally performed a multitude of both simple clerical and house keeping functions and complex administrative and lawyering tasks. Beyond taking shorthand and transcribing items for her boss's sig- nature and beyond acting as his gatekeeper . . . legal secretaries typically might type corporate minutes, draft standard wills or petitions following boiler-plate forms, or check legal citations and references for her attorney. She might also monitor the court cal- endar or docket, handle the firm's bills and charges, and work with an outside accountant on firm taxes. All this has been in addition to filing, ordering supplies, handling the mail, typing endless copy from draft, collating multiple final copies, and, of course, making coffee.... In keeping with the office-wife role expected of her, the Wall Street legal secretary further has traditionally performed certain supportive and nurturant tasks as well. Covering for an attorney's mistakes, lying about his whereabouts when it is helpful, listening supportively (and in confidence) to his career or family problems, . . . are all important tasks associated with her sex-stereotyped role as handmaiden and confidante. REWARDS AND CAREER MOBILITY Secretaries in jobs defined by patrunonial relations are subject to a special set of standards and; rewards that, unlike most other occupations in the office, is highly particularmtic. By and large secretaries are rewarded for loyalty and devotion to their bosses. In the INDISCO study, for example, Kanter found that secretarial ratings were determined by two main traits or attitudes. One was initiative and enthusiasm, and the other was the secretary's ability to "anticipate and take care of personal needs." They were not necessarily rated for professional skills. Even when the company attempted to standardize the evaluation process, managers often
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106 NEW TECHNOLOGYAND OFFICE TRADITION rated secretaries in terms of the quality of their relationships rather than in terms of skills that benefit the organization generally (Kanter, 1977~. A number of recent studies have begun to analyze the skilled but often "invisible" labor that secretaries perform. Too often these skills go unrecognized and undercompensated. Secretaries, for example, perform many highly skilled tasks that require expert social and cognitive judgments and use sophisticated mediating and negotiating techniques that involve great diplomacy (Mur- phree, 1984; Suchman and Wynn, 1984~. As "gatekeepers" they must know when to disturb their managers for telephone calls as well as how to put off the unwanted call diplomatically. In addition to knowing who's who in the manager's world, they must know how to read urgency in the tones of their bosses and their bosses' superiors; how to follow complicated and often poorly explained instructions; and how to negotiate and shepherd projects through the various departments and support services of the organization. These skills, according to Machung (1983), while handsomely re- warded at the executive or managerial level, are undervalued when performed by women labeled as secretaries. This perception of inequity is increasingly a source of grievance to secretaries. The Consensus Statement of Professional Secre- taries International (a nonunion organization) insists that "discre- tionary judgment, not clerical skills, is the key component of the secretary's productivity." Further it maintains that "tAipprecia- tion does not replace compensation. This message is similar to that of "Raises Not Roses promulgated by District 9 to 5 of the Service Employees International Union. Secretaries are paid less and have less control and less in- dependent recognition than they might have otherwise. Instead they receive such nonutilitarian rewards as praise, appreciation, prestige, love, or flattery. Symbolic rewards are also frequent substitutes for promotion. Typically women in secretarial jobs derive their formal rank and pay from the formal rank of their bosses rather than from the skills they utilize or the tasks they perform. A common career path for a secretary traditionally has been to begin as a pool secretary, advance to working for a lower-level manager or divisional officer, and end up as a secretary to a vice president or a president (Kanter, 1977~.
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MARY C. MURPHREE 107 In my study of legal secretaries ~ found two main types of career mobility: vertical and horizontal. Vertical mobility was most commonly achieved by the spool to partner" route. It also meant moving from the typing pool to working for any attorney, or moving from a junior law partner to a stop partner," or from an associate to a partner. Sometimes it involved moving from a pair of attorneys to a single attorney. Secretaries sometunes moved horizontally within an organization as well. At law Firm X, where ~ conducted a case study, this simply meant the secretary changed to an attorney with the same rank as her present boss. For exa~nple, through the office grapevine a secretary might learn of a good position opening in the office of an attorney with a reputation for being particularly nice and request permission from the personnel department to transfer laterally to that attorney. Partners' secretaries, however, were usually not permitted to move laterally. Any move they made had to be to a higher-level attorney or out of the firm altogether. Only rarely, however, did any legal secretary move to another service department of the firm, i.e., to the paralegal department, to proofreading, or to the library. Whatever industry or profession they are tied to, secretaries have generally not moved with any ease into managerial and pro- fessional jobs. Moreover, the ladders that do exist are exceedingly short and confining. Research indicates that moving up typically means an easier work load but not necessarily a more challenging one. In many instances the sharpest work, with the most demands and greatest variety of technical requirements, is performed at the lowest secretarial level (Kanter, 1977~. Secretaries at the upper levels of INDISCO, for example, had more responsibility in the sense that they took on a few administrative duties (and often their mistakes had greater consequences), but they did not neces- sarily have the heaviest work loads. This was also true at Firm X, where legal secretaries to junior partners or senior associates had less status and pay but heavier work loads than senior partners' secretaries. Their attorneys not the senior partners- typically generated the most paperwork In the firm (Murphree, 1981~.
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108 NEW TECHNOLOGYAND OFFICE TRADITION CHANGES IN THE SUPPLY OF WOMEN TO SECRETARIAL JOBS: RISING EXPECTATIONS AND DECLINING SATISFACTION For many years women secretaries have shaped their expec- tations to the patrimonial structure surrounding them. In recent years, however, the workplace expectations of more and more women have soared, creating a striking dissonance between expec- tations and actual experience- a dissonance exacerbated by new office technology. In the late 1970s, Daniel Yankelovich (1979) focused atten- tion on the growing "psychology of entitlements" characterizing American workers, female as well as male. Workers increasingly demand rights and rewards at work that they did not consider due them in the past. Women, while generally satisfied with less than men (Gutek and Bikson, 1985), are nonetheless an important part of this movement. According to Rosabeth Kanter, since the 1960s women in the nonprofessional rank and file have lobbied with a new legitimacy for an extension of their basic civil rights into the workplace and have demanded equity, discretion, and greater employee control (Kanter, 1977~.5 Many are questioning their subordinate place in organizational hierarchies as nurturant "office wives, servants, and sex objects. At the same time they are seeking recognition for their Invisible labor" and their role as important players on the office team. Accompanying this drive for entitlements has been an observ- able decline in the overall satisfaction of working women, especially secretaries. As early as 1977 women were reporting a gap between what they expected from their jobs and what they felt they were getting. The Quality of Employment Survey, for example, re- ported a decline of some 25 points In the mean job satisfaction 5 There is a wide range as to what different workers mean by their Frights. At the most radical level, the rights issue focuses on access to real power for subordinates, namely, access to the resources of the organization, or what a union organizer in Terkel's American Drcanw: Lost and Found (1981) called Profits and say-so. Worker rights may also involve "freedom from hierarchy" (Blauner, 1966; Presthus, 1978) and the opening up of an organization's opportunity system to any qualified workers (Kanter, 1977~. In most instances, however, the rights discussed involve such specifics as the right to pay equity or privacy, the right to participate in decisions involving departmental production, or the right to more control by the worker over his or her immediate work tasks and environment.
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MARY C. MURPHREE 125 Many employers (and some secretaries) believe that the on- thejob training on new equipment is a sufficient substitute for ad- ditional pay (Women's Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, 1985~. Most secretaries, however, want to see their new computer skills reflected in their paychecks and argue their case through orga- nizations such as Professional Secretaries International and The Working Women's Education Fund. In a recent poll of 1,250 secretaries, almost 90 percent believed their computer skills should earn them higher pay. However, the same survey reports that 58.1 percent fee} that their computer skills had not earned them a higher salary (Fusselman, 1986~. Thirty-five percent of the secretaries interviewed in the Panasonic Study, In fact, cited "insufficient pays as a source of their great- est job stress. In the Kelly survey only 30 percent of the word- processing secretaries interviewed reported receiving pay increases as a result of their word-processing skills. The Educational Fund for Individual Rights also found "a strong minority" perhaps 25- 35 percent of the women VDT users it studied expressing concern about fairness of the pay they were receiving. These attitudes were particularly strong among clericals, including secretaries, under 30 years of age. (This is also the group, according to the Kelly study, most likely to receive a pay increase as a result of developing new word-processing skills (Kelly Services, 1982~.) It is essential that research be undertaken that tracks the types of skills used in different word-processing jobs and how currently these skills relate to wages. Secretaries in private, shared, and team jobs perform very different constellations of tasks and hence are likely to use a different collection of skills. Individuals working in the same kind of word-processing job may vary greatly among one another in expertise. Two secretaries can have very different abilities in exploiting a sophisticated word-processing program like Wordstar(~) or XywriteW. They may differ in the number of commands they know, knowledge of when a command should be used, understanding of the computer's operating system, ability to save space on files, and ability to program the machine to take shortcuts or customize it to their needs. Developing a fair and equitable formula for evaluating word-processing and secretarial skills is an essential job still to be done.
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126 NE W TECHNOLOG Y AND OFFICE TRADITION OTHER VARIABLES AFFECTING CHANGE Altered staffing ratios and the authority structure are only some of the organizational variables affecting change in the sec- retary's job. Other important variables include the size of the office, the kind of industry or profession (legal secretary, medical secretary, bank secretary, etc.), and the resources and wealth of the office or work group. Office Size Office size has always had an impact on secretarial work. Sec- retaries working in small offices have always been spared the costs of extreme specialization. Most have great variety in their jobs as "dills" of all trades. Their work includes typing, housekeeping, re- search, inventory control, and accounting. Caste distinctions tend to be played down, with work relations warmer and more family- like and rules and regulations kept to a minimum (Murphree, 1981; Litwak and Figueira, 1968~. Secretaries in small offices nevertheless generally forgo the perks of larger establishments. Large firms often tend to have good back-up services (e.g., duplicating departments, mail and messenger services, canteens in which to make coffee and wash the pot) and higher salary scales. Just as important, large organiza- tions tend to be financially sounder. As one secretary In a very large law firm pointed out to me: "They've got cash at the end of the month; their check is good!" Large organizations also afford a certain panache or status by association that reflects on any employee in her life outside the office, however modest her status at work. ("I can read about our clients in the New York Times.") Computerization is making dramatic inroads in small offices (U.S. Congress, Office of Technological Assessment, 1985~. The impact of automation in small offices alters few of these differ- ences. Its impact, however, is not well defined.~° There are indi- cations that secretaries In small offices may be In a better position to be delegated higher-level computer tasks, such as setting up a computerized billing system or some other administrative or managerial software packages. For example, many small law firms . 10 Unfortunately, we have little systematic research on small-office au- tomation and its effect on secretaries. Such research is essential since small business generates the bulk of new clerical jobs in the United States today, and more and more secretaries are likely to find jobs there.
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MARY C. MURPHREE 127 cannot afford customized packages, and the task of adapting a retail software package falls to the legal secretary with initiative. Moreover, while salaries of word-processing secretaries in small offices are likely to remain lower than those of secretaries in large organizations, the opportunity in small firms to broaden one's skills may put the small-office secretary in a better position to advance into higher-paying jobs, depending on the industry in which she works. Industrial Variation Secretarial jobs, before and after the introduction of the com- puter, have tended to vary in significant ways by industry and profession. Want ads routinely promote secretarial jobs by adver- tising different industrial or professional cultures. Secretarial jobs in broadcasting are considered glamour jobs; law and publishing are portrayed as intellectual and dignified; medicine is for the secretary who wants to help people. It is, in fact, true that the service or product put out by a company will have ah effect on the secretary's tasks. Medical secretaries, brokerage secretaries, and academic secretaries, for example, tend to have more client contact than do large-firm legal secretaries. Research, however, indicates that secretaries who work in the professions, while generally better paid (academia is the excep- tion), have the shortest career ladders and least opportunity for mobility into management. In an earlier piece (Murphree, 1981), distinguished between professional or caste bureaucracies and class bureaucracies. In the former (e.g., law and accounting firms), mo- bility is based on credentials, and hence beyond the reach of the secretary. In the latter (e.g., brokerage houses and some man- ufacturing firms), initiative, savvy, and salesmanship are highly valued, and secretaries have a better chance for advancement. Sec- retaries in the caste-like Wall Street law firms are, by definition, barred from moving into any professional jobs, except for two or three supervisory jobs in personnel or as "leadersn or coordinators of a clerical team. Public versus private sector is another variable that may affect the nature of change in secretarial work in the automated office. Public sector secretaries are more likely to be protected by unions than are secretaries in the private sector. Increasingly, contract
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128 NEW TECHNOLOGYAND OFFICE TRADITION bargaining includes discussions of the impact of technology on office workers. Negotiating points can include job security, wage increases for word- and data-processing skills learned, ergonomic improvements, and job design standards. Resources and Wealth of Office The quality of secretarial jobs has always varied according to the resources and wealth of the organization. This is no less true in the automated office. Wealthier firms are the most likely to spend extra dollars for upgrading the ergonomics of the office, i.e., improving lighting and air quality, purchasing the proper chairs and desks, and keeping the equipment In top-notch condition. They are also the most likely to preserve the private secretarial role. Secretaries give status to a boss, and this ~ important in many offices. It is not clear~espite vendor cIanns- that a terminal on the boss's desk can replace the prestige of having a secretary. More likely, those who can afford to maximize their status wiD have both a terminal and a secretary. -Most law firms, for example, have maintained private or shared secretaries as long as the bottom line has permitted. Poor firms or economically shaky firms (or poor departments), on the other hand, are the most likely to attempt to cut costs by not replacing secretaries who leave. They may also be more likely to implement secretarial sharing or minipoole In their office when word processing is brought in. They are also the least likely to give extra pay to secretaries who work for a large number of bosses and who have very heavy work loads. CONCLUSION In this paper I have stressed the importance of examining the social context in which office automation is occurring in order to determine its effects on secretaries. ~ have also pointed out the im- portance of examining the differential effects automation can have on various "at risks groups of women office workers, particularly black and Hispanic women, who come into offices with different work histories and backgrounds but who have more than many managers are prepared to acknowledge the same expectations and needs for growth and advancement as their coworkers. Key factors in my analysis have included gender relations at work, especially the persistence of a strong patrimonial tradition
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MARY C. MURPHREE 129 in boss-secretary relations, and variation ~ staffing ratio (private, shared, and pool secretaries), which are found in the contempo- rary office. These can- either mitigate or exacerbate traditional social relations between bosses and word-processing secret Aries in important ways. My focus, which considers office automation from the perspec- tive of the word-processing secretary, suggests hypotheses about where it is likely to succeed and to fail. Crucial to its success or failure are the rising expectations working women bring to their jobs and the limited extent to which these expectations are be- ing met. It appears that too often word-processing secretaries are led to expect more from the new technology than it can realisti- cally deliver, given the strong traditions that continue to shape office organization. The trend toward secretarial sharing and cer- tain pool-like arrangements, along with a lack of training, make it impossible for many secretaries to learn and perform the more challenging high-tech tasks technology in principle permits. The persistence of patrimony in certain word-processing settings con- tinues to require secretaries to negotiate their job tasks just as they always have. Mobility and access to real career ladders continue to be a problem. In the new, an in the traditional, office, favoritism and manipulation of a boss is more likely to produce a move upward to a professional position than any reorganization of career ladders that is technology-driven or management-inspired. Moreover, sec- retaries shuttled from private secretarial status into slots as shared secretaries or into strict m~nipool~ lose access to even the short- ladder career routes (e.g., pool to executive) that were formerly available. Wages and salary increases for skins acquired may prove to be the biggest problem of all. Word-processing secretaries may have to work ~smarter" and ~harder" and learn new skills just to maintain their jobs and current pay. This is a source of frustration for many women who look for incentives to Get on the word- processing bandwagons and contribute to office productivity. The dearth of data on the subject should not be minimized. The occupation of secretary has reached a critical juncture in office history. Yet, analysis of it and its incumbents currently must be based on exploratory case study material and crude preliminary survey data. Laclking more reliable data, ~ am restricted in this paper to presenting a series of hypotheses.
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130 NEW TECHNOLOGYAND OFFICE TRADITION My inquiry suggests a troubling relationship between women's experiences in the new office and their expectations, at least in the typical case in which office automation is experienced as an invasion of VDT terminals in a piecemeal and unsystematic fash-- ion. Many traditional tasks and rules remain. But there is also a troubling trend toward eliminating some secretarial functions. The trend of word processing by professionals, in which authors or bosses handle everything from the generation of ideas to the generation of finished texts, may be growing. What then becomes of the secretary? What are the conse- quences of these changes for secretarial job design, wages, working conditions, and mobility? What jobs, if any, can minority women move into? What happens to older secretaries? What jobs for women once workers will continue to exist? It is imperative to get answers to these kinds of questions. Careful, systematic research on those pace-setting high-tech envi- ronments that have moved beyond poop or secretarial sharing to a basic redivision of labor may furnish clues to what the nation's largest women's occupation can expect. REFERENCES Appelbaum, Eileen 1984 Technology and the Redesign of Work in the Insurance Industry. Project Report No. 84-A22. Institute for Research on Educational Finance and Governance, School of Education, Stanford University. Austin, William M., and Lawrence C. Drake, Jr. 1985 Office automation. Occupation Outlook Quarterly Spring:16-19. Baker, Elizabeth F`. 1964 Technology and Women'` Work. New York: Columbia University Press. Baran, Barbara, and Suzanne Teegarden 1983 Women's Labor in the Office of the E`uture, Changes in the Occu- pational Structure of the Insurance Industry. Paper Prepared for the Conference on Women and Structural Transformation. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University (November). Benston, Margaret Lowe 1983 For women, the chips are down. Pp. 44-54 in Jan Zimmerman, ea., 17`c Technological Woman. New York: Praeger. Bikson, Tora K., and Barbara A. Gutek 1983 Advanced Office Systems: An Empirical Look at Utilization and Satisfaction. Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand Corporation Publication Series. Bjorn-Andersen, Niels 1983 The changing roles of secretaries and clerks. In New Office Tcchnol- ogy: Human and Organizatiorml Aspects. London: Pinter.
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MARY C. MURPHREE 131 Blauner, Robert 1966 Work satisfaction and industrial trends in modern society. In R. Bendix and S. Lipset, eds., Class, Statw arid Power. New York: Free Press. Braverman, Harry 1974 Labor and Monopoly Capital. New York: Monthly Review Press. Crazier, Michel 1964 The Bureaucratic Phenomenon. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Data-Pro Newsbriefs 1985 Technology and Compensation. In Data-Pro New~Brief~, Automated Office Management 8~1~:1-2. Davies, Margery W. 1982 Woman' Place Is at the Typewriter: Office Work arid Office Workers, 187l~1980. Philadelphia: Temple University. Driscoll, James W. 1979 People and the automated office. Datamatior~ (November):106-112. 1982 How to humanize office automation. Office, Technology and People 1:167-176. Duff, Thomas B., and Patricia A. Merrier 1984 Secretaries: caught in the past? Mar~agement World (October):9-11. Feldberg, Roslyn L., and Evelyn Nakano Glenn 1983 Technology and work degradation: effects of office automation on women clerical workers. Ch. 4 in Joan Rothchild, ea., Machina Ez Deal Feminist Perspectives on Technology. New York: Pergamon Press. Form, William, and David B. McMillen 1983 Women, Men, & Machines. Work and Occupations 10~23:147-178. Fusselman, Kay 1986 Do computer skills mean higher pay, better jobs? The Secretary (June/July):14-23. Gery, Gloria J. 1982 Office technology: creating receptivity among executives and pro- fessionals. National Productivity Review (Spring):204-216. Giuliano, Vincent E. 1982 The mechanization of office work. Scientific American 247~3~:148- 164. Glenn, Evelyn Nakano, and Roslyn L. Feldberg 1977 Degraded and deskilled: the proletarian of clerical work. Social Problen" 25 (1 ) :52-64. Goldfield, Randy J., et al. 1985 Office technology: advancing or retreating? The Secretary (Novem- ber/December) :5-6. Grandjean, Burke, and Patricia Taylor 1980 Job satisfaction among female clerical workers. Sociology of Work and Occupations 7~1~:33-53. Gregory, Judith, and Karen Nussbaum 1982 Race against time: automation of the office. Office, Technology, and People 1 (2-3):197-236.
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132 NEW TECHNOLOGY AND OFFICE TRADITION Gutek, Barbara, and Tora K. Bikson 1985 Differential experiences of men and women in computerized offices. So:: Roles 13~3,4~:123-136. Gutek, Barbara A. 1983 Women's work in the office of the future. Pp. 159-168 in Jan Zimmerman, ea., 17`c Technological Woman. New York: Praeger. Hirschhorn, Larry 1984 Office Automation and the Entry Level Job: A Concept Paper. Management and Behavioral Science Center, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Honeywell Inc. 1983 National Survey on Office Automation and the Workplace, a Na- tional Survey of Managers and Secretaries. Minneapolis, Minn. Iacono, Suzanne, and Rob Kling 1984 Changing Office Technologies and the Transformation of Clerical Work: A Historical Perspective. Working Draft #9D, Public Policy Research Organization, University of California, Irvine. Johnson, Bonnie McDaniel 1985 Organizational Design of Word Processing from Typewriter to Integrated Office Systems. American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Office Automation Conference (Febru- ary). 1984 Getting the Job Done. Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman. Johnson, Bonnie McDaniel, et al. 1985 Innovation in Office Systems Implementation. National Science Foundation, Report No. 8110791, Washington, D.C. Kanter, Rosabeth M. 1977 Men and Women of the Corporation. New York: Basic Books. 1983 Office automation and people: a new dimension white paper, prepared for Honeywell Inc., Minneapolis, Minn. Karasek, Robert 1979 Job demands, job decision latitude and mental strain: implications for job redesign. Ad~u?tistratioc Scicr~cc Quarterly 24:285-308. Kelly Services 1982 The Kelly Report on People in the Electronic Office. Survey conducted by Research & Forecast, Inc., New York. 1984 Kelly Report on People in the Electronic Office, Vols. I, II, and III. Public Relations Department, Detroit, Mich. Kraft, Philip 1985 A review of empirical studies of the consequences of technological change on work and workers in the United States. Pp. 117-150 in Technology and Employment Effect`, Interim Report of the Panel on Technology and Women's Employment, Committee on Women's Employment and Related Social Issues, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Litwak, Eugene, and Josefina Figueira 1968 Technological innovation and theoretical functions of primary groups and bureaucratic structures. American Journal of Sociology 73:468-481.
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MARY C. MURPHREE 133 Lockwood, David 1958 Thc Blachcoated Woricr. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd. Machung, Anne 1983 From Psyche to Technic: The Politics of Office Work. Ph.D. disser- tation. Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Marschall, Daniel, and Judith Gregory, eds. 1983 Office Automation Jekyll or Hyde? Cleveland, Ohio: Working Women's Education E`und. Menzies, Heather 1981 Women and the Chip: Case Studies of the Effcets of Informatics ore EN ploymcnt in Canada. Montreal, Canada: The Institute for Research in Public Policy. Mills, C. Wright 1956 White Collar. New York: Oxford University Press. Murphree, Mary C. 1981 Rationalization and Satisfaction in Clerical Work: A Case Study of Wall Street Legal Secretaries. Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Sociology, Columbia University. 1984a Brave new office: the changing role of the legal secretary. Pp. 14~159 in K. Sacks and D. Remy, eds., My lFoublce Arc Going to Hauc Double with Me: Everyday Ethyls and Triumphs of Women Workers. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. 1984b Management Discovers Women: The Reorganization of Clerical Workers in the 1980's. Paper presented at the Sixth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. Smith College, June 1-3. National Commission on Working Women 1979 National Survey of Working Women: Perceptions, Problems, and Prospects. Washington, D.C. June. 9 to 5, National Association of Working Women 1984 The 9 to 5 National Survey on Women and Stress. National Association of Working Women, Cleveland, Ohio. Nelson, Kristin Louise 1984 Back-Offices and Female Labor Markets: Office Suburbanization in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley. Oelrich, Elizabeth S. 1968 The Position of the Female Secretary in the U.S. from 1900 through 1967: An Historical Study. Ph.D. dissertation. University of North Dakota. Otos, Sally, and Ellen Levy 1983 Pp. 140158 in Jan Zimmerman, ea., Thc Technological Woman. New York: Praeger. Pomfrett, S.M., et al. 1984 Proceedings of the 1st IFIP Conference on Human-Computer In- teraction. Interact 2:357-363. Presthus, Robert 1978 Thc Organizatior~alSocicty. Revised edition. New York: St. Martin's Press.
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134 NEW TECHNOLOGY AND OFFICE TRADITION Professional Secretaries International 1984 Secretaries. . . Who Earns What? And Why? Kansas City, Mo.: PSI Research and Educational Foundation. 1983 Consensus Statement. Secretary Speakout '83. Boston, Mass. 1981 Consensus Statement. Secretary Speakout '81. San Francisco, Calif. Professional Secretaries International and the Minolta Corp. 1984 Thc Evolving Role of the Secretary in the Ir~formation Age. Survey sponsored by Minolta Corp., in cooperation with Professional Secretaries International Research and Educational Foundation. Kansas City, Mo. Pullman, Cydney, and Sharon Szymanski 1986 The Impact of Technology on Clerical Worker Skills in the Banking, Insurance and Legal Industries in New York City: Implications for Training. A Study for the Private Industry Council of New York City, The Labor Institute. August. Quinn, Robert P., and Graham L. Staines 1979 Thc 19T7 Quality of Employment Survey. Ann Arbor, Mich.: ISR, Survey Research Center. On i~rer~ilv of M;r 1' i In Rothschild, Joan, ed. 1983 Machina cz dca: Fcmir~st Perspectives on Technology. New York: Pergamon. Salmans, Sandra 1982 The debate over the electronic office. New York Times Magazine, November 14, pp. 131-137, 157-158. Schlefer, Jonathan 1983 Office automation and bureaucracy. Technology Review (July):32-40. Schrage, Michael 1984 PCs may redefine secretaries' jobs, Washington Post, "Washington Business," December 17. Schrank, Harris T., and J.W. Riley, Jr. 1976 Women in work organizations. Pp. 82-101 in Juanita Kreps, ea., Women and the American Economy. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Scott, Joan W. 1982 The mechanization of women's work. Scier~ific Americar~ 247~3~: 166~187. Sphered, R.J. 1982 Office automation. Science 215:808-813. Staines, Graham L. 1979 Is worker dissatisfaction rising? Challer`~c (May-June):38-45. Suchman, Lucy, and Eleanor Wynn 1984 Procedures and problems in the office. In Technology and People. Amsterdam: Elsevier. Terkel, Studs 1981 American Dreams: Lost and Found. New York: Balantine. The Professional Survey on Secretarial Stress 1986 Surrey sponsored by Panasonic Industrial Co. and Professional Secretaries International. Thc Secretary (March):10-21. U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment 1985 Automation of America's Offices, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, OTA-CIT-287, December. ~ _ _ c~ ~ ,
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MARY C. MURPHREE 135 U.S. Department of Labor 1984- Occupational Outlook Handbook, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government 1985 Printing Office. U.S. Department of State 1975 Secretarial Task Force Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govern- ment Printing Office. Verbatim Corp. 1982 Office Workers' Views and Perceptions of New Technology in the Workplace. Survey conducted by Group Attitudes Corp., New York. Watstein, Esther 1985 Administrative assistant. Just another title? Bin 16~1~:4-9. Werneke, Diane 1984 Microelectronics and Working Women: A Literature Summary. Committee on Employment and Related Social Issues, National Research Council, Washington, D.C. Westin, Alan F., et al. 1985 The Changing Workplace: A Guide to Marinating the People, Orgar~iza- tional and Regula;lrory Aspects of Office Technology. White Plains, N.Y.: Knowledge Industry Publications, Inc. Women's Bureau 1986 Women, Clerical Work, and Office Automation: Issues for Re- search. Report of a conference co-sponsored by the Women's Bu- reau and the Panel on Technology and Women's Employment, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1985 Women and Office Automation: Issues for the Decade Ahead. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Yankelovich, Daniel 1979 Work, values, and the new breed. In C. Kerr and J. Rosow, eds., Work in America, The Decade Ahead New York: Van Nostrand. Zimmerman, Jan, ed. 1983 The Technological Woman. New York: Praeger.
Representative terms from entire chapter: