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A memo from Craig Harris

A memo from Craig Harris

Craig Harris, EA to the People Director at NSPCC talks about his position as a male EA and the misconceptions and stereotypes that are associated with the role.

“Isn’t it a woman’s job?” and “aren’t PAs women?” are just some of the comments that I hear on a regular basis. My name is Craig Harris and I am a male EA.

When I started out in the PA industry, I had never considered that I would be in the minority. Of course, the majority of the images we see through mainstream media – The Devil Wears Prada, for example – depict women demanding and securing these high-powered PA positions, but I had never considered that this was the reality. In fact, the belief is that around 93% of PAs/EAs/administrative staff in the UK are women. I find this an astonishing figure and wonder why more men have not stepped up and taken on the role of an assistant. Is it because they too see it as ‘women’s work?’ Do they not see it as a legitimate career option? Or maybe it’s down to assuming that they wouldn’t get hired in a predominantly female-led industry.

When we look back to before WWI, the majority of personal assistants were men and very few women were carrying out these roles. Of course once the war hit, more women became personal assistants and the rest, they say, is history. As time has moved on, the job and industry has become more female dominated.

When I’m asked why I became an assistant, my answer is simple – I’m good at supporting people and I’m organised. This is what made me leave a career of nearly a decade in customer service to take up a new path as an assistant, and I have never once felt that I couldn’t be successful or able to do my role because I am a man. I’ve never considered the role to be gender specific and have never felt any discrimination from my peers (be that male or female). The comments I receive are usually from other men outside of our industry who are still stuck in a gender-specific world.

I believe that as an industry we need to be reaching out to more men, and helping them realise being an assistant is not just about diary management and getting the boss lunch. We need to show them that this is a rewarding career option and that the possibilities (and sometimes perks) of being an assistant are endless.

If you are good at what you do, have the determination, drive and ambition to be successful, then your sex, age, or anything else for that matter should not stop you from reaching your goals. Being an assistant is fantastic. So to the men that turn their noses up at our profession – you’re missing out!