jobs and 33 million arce clerical ser-
vice, sales or factory jobs--underval-
ued, underpaid, underappreciated."
Although women office workers
have main other complaints, money is
their biggest worry. Their salaries of-
ton reflect the outdated notion that
women work only for "pin money.*' A
recent survey by the National Commission on Working Women found that 56
percent of the clerical workers who responded were unhappy with their pay.
"A bank office worker averages $ 15
a week take home," says Nussbaum.
"But when you walk in the bank as a
customer, your salary as a bank employe probably won't be good enough
to get you a mortgage or a car loan."
Women complain that salaries often
are set without regard to their skills or
the value of their work. Kinder, the
Dayton secretary who earns $144 a
week, claims her raises are the same as
all other secretaries', even though her
work has been rated excellent.
Maureen O'ponnell of Boston, a
$19()-a-week secretary with a muster's
degree, says secretaries often must do a
boss's work for a fraction of the salary.
A boss once said to her: "I need a secretary to tell me what to do."
Fighting the system. In a number of
recent court suits, women office workers have challenged standard pay systems they claim give a skilled executive secretary a lower salary than the
janitor. These suits have fostered a new
rallying cry: "Equal pay for work of
comparable value." Although most
courts do not recognize this criterion,
the National Academy of Sciences has
found that job-evaluation systems do
have "built-in biases" against women.
Many women also reject the old image of a secretary as a personal servant
for the boss Among them is Pasrhke.
the San Francisco secreary whose du-
ties gradually expanded every five years
until she was making 10 pots of coffee a
day, catering lunches and doing the dishes.
She finally told her boss in a
blunt memo that she was hired as a
secretary—not a waitress.
Many mature women workers object
to being known as "the girl." Others
say they have no promotional opportunities. The National Commission on
Working Women survey found 41 percent of the clerical workers were bored
by a job that did not use their skills.
Forty percent wanted fo quit, but
could not afford it, and 26 percent
complained of sex bias.
These are the complaints that have
caused working women's groups to
spring up in nearly 20 major cities.
"Working Women." an umbrella organization with about S.0U0 members in
15 such groups, has published a bill of
rights outlining what the women
want. It includes overtime pay, job descriptions, regular salary review's, cost-
of-living raises, more benefits, access to
advancement, a grievance system and
the right to refuse doing personal
chores for the boss.
In each city, these groups are publicizing women's working conditions
with surveys and public hearings. They
demand meetings with the local chamber of commerce and corporate officers to discuss pay scales. They counsel
women on how to get raises and file
complaints with the Equal (Employment Opportunity Commission.
Banking has been singled out as their
first target. In Boston, a working women's group known as Nino to Five has
launched a publicity campaign to upgrade the status of women employes at
First National Bank. The group claims
it already has won job posting at the
bank. But bank spokesman Barry Allen
says job posting was the banks own
idea, lie adds, "We don't See this as
posing any serious challenge to the w ay
Nationally, the women's groups have
precipitated a federal crackdown on alleged sex bias in banking. Based on
charges brought by a Chicago-based
group known as Women (Employed,
the federal government is threatening
to stop doing business with tunc bank.
New federal regulations also have been
drafted by the Labor Department that
would require banks to post job openings and promote more women.
The American Bankers Association
sought to dispel criticism recently with
a report showing the number of women in lop bank jobs has risen fourfold
Many unions are looking to these groups as
potential sources of new union members. In Boston, for example, some
members ol Nine to Five have already
joined the Service (Employes International Union.
Mans unions are beginning to sign
up women office workers, no matter
what industry they normally represent.
Some 2,000 University of Chicago clerical workers just joined the Teamster*.
Over the next 20 years, Nussbaum
predicts these efforts will nourish. "I'll
look back in triumph." she says. "I'll
remember how cart'fully we built a
movement of women office workers,
led by women, changing the labor
movement, changing the country.'
A shortage of secretaries
in a spoof of corporate life called Nine
to Five, which 20th Century-Fox is
about to begin filming. Actress Jane Fon-
da plays a secretary in a Los Angeles firm
that is so large and anonymous that she
and her water-cooler chums are not even
sure what business it is in. However it
docs at the box office, the movie is sure
to draw howls of pain from personnel officers. Reason: all over the country, companies are finding that despite today's
near 6% unemployment rale, they are
having to cope with a severe shortage of
secretaries. That shortage is in no small
measure, caused by the lingering image
of secretaries as decorative gofers.
The Department of Labor reports that
more jobs arc opening up in the secretarial field than in any of the other 299
work classifications on which it keeps
tabs. Although there are already a record
3.6 million secretaries on public and private payrolls, new positions are being created at a rate of 440.000 a year. But while
secretarial schools are filled, almost 20%
of the new jobs are going begging.
Insurance firms and banks have been
hit especially hard by the shortage, but
the effects are also being fell in such
"glamour" industries as publishing, television and advertising. Chicago's First
National Bank has fatten giving $500
bounties to employees who recruit new
secretaries, and the big CNA insuranc
firm, offers color TVs. Sears. Roebuck and
California's Crocker National Bank have
held open house parties in an attempt I
The secretary squeeze has been de-
veloping gradually over the past five
years, and corporate expansion is only on
of the causes. In large part, the shortag
is a side effect of the women's movement
and equal opportunity programs. Now
that they are encouraged to start out i
management training programs or go o
to study law. medicine or business mar
agement, young women graduates are less
apt to want to move from campus to a sec
rctarial poo! Says Sheila Rather, an ex
ecutive with the Manhattan office C
Brook Street Bureau of Mayfair Ltd .
personnel agency: "Business has never ac
cepted the fact that a secretary also want
a career path " At the same tune, effort
to attract men to secretarial work have
fared poorly, while minorities prefer to
take advantage of affirmative action pro
grams that enable them to get jobs that;
promise faster advancement.
The shortage is sure to increase pres
sure on companies to boost secretarian
wages, even though many managers ar
gue that they are already offering ample
pay for the applicants they are now get
ting. ASI Personnel Service, a Chicago re
cruiting firm, receives 30 to 40 calls a da
from employers wilting to pay $800 to
$900 a month for experienced secretarie
However, ASl-listed candidates with the
required skills are demanding $900 to
$1,300 a month. In fast-growing corpo
rate centers like Houston, top-level ex
ecutive secretaries now command up to
$30,000 a year.
Several firms are trying to deal with
the shortage by making secretarial job
more appealing. Crocker, Chevron and
Levi Strauss have promotion-from-with
in programs aimed at helping talented
secretaries to move up the corporate lat
der. Some Chicago employers, including
the Harris Trust & Savings Bank. Le
Burnett and Continental Bank, partici
pate in a work-study program that en
ables secretary trainees to earn up to $30
a month while honing their skills at a sec
Many firms have found that older
more mature women who have raise
their families or are weary of housekeep
ing can be lured back into secretarial po
sitions. Chevron recently hired a woman
of 76 out of semi-retirement to fill a job
in its San Francisco office. At the Kath
arine Gibbs secretarial schools, many
the older women who enroll to retires
their secretarial skills are offered jobs be
fore the course is over. Says Barbara Lyo
the Gibbs "alumnae officer" at the
school's New York City branch: "Your
secretaries today are restive If you talk
to any employer now. he will say. 'Give
me a mature woman who has settled down
and really wants this job." "