The Rise of the Male Assistant

Gender equality is a hot topic in employment: it drives company initiatives, informs HR journalism but generally doesn’t stray far from the line “We need more women”.  Yet, here’s a vocation in which you might see a reverse trend; it’s all about the men.  For the first time, men are embracing the executive assistant profession which, half a century ago, was a uniquely female venture.  Today, when equality of the sexes in the workplace is more of a reality than a promise, the profile of an executive assistant is being regendered.  Enter the male assistant.

Here at TM International, a recruitment agency specialising in the placement of bilingual assistants, we have seen a notable increase of late in the number of male candidates sending in their CVs.  The classic profile tends to be a man in his early twenties, a first jobber or with a primary experience up his sleeve.  So why, unlike his predecessors, has he decided to become an assistant?

As touched upon, male assistants typically belong to the younger generation; that which has grown up believing in equal working rights for both sexes and is comfortable with the idea of a male assistant working for a female boss.  Suffice to say, twenty years ago, this probably wasn’t the case but well-worn sexual prejudices are on their way out and men are no longer averse to the idea of being an assistant.  Notably, the desexualisation of the profession has a lot to do with it.  The transition in job title from ‘secretary’ to ‘assistant’ has helped rebrand the secretary, from a woman in a short skirt to a respected professional, and has removed any sexual stigma.

Furthermore, the onset of technology in the workplace has completely changed the role.  When word processors were brought in, companies no longer needed typists but sought organisers; those who were resourceful and on whom an executive could rely to make his/her life a lot easier.  The role has more scope and can be very rewarding; just look here for how valued a good assistant can be.

And a more demanding role requires a higher salary.  In the UK, salaries for executive assistants range from £25,000 to £75,000, while in France, they can range between €24,000 and €60,000.  David Morel, managing director of Tiger Recruitment in the UK, notes the higher salary as a fundamental factor pulling more male applicants to the job.  In addition, the opportunities for progression as an assistant within a company are now more apparent than ever.  An assistant has experience in many sectors of the business and works closely with senior managers, meaning he/she is well-positioned to climb the rungs of the company.

All in all, while the assistant demographic is still overwhelmingly female, any movement towards embracing greater diversity in the workplace is to be applauded.  And, on a general note, the next time you ring somebody’s assistant, don’t expect to hear a female voice…

If you found this article interesting, look here for more of the same.  And if you are looking for a job, consult the job offers on our website.

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  1. Thank you for sharing, Robin!


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