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April 24, 2000
Not Secretaries Week Anymore
A s
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urvey released by Avery Dennison reveals that as administrative assistants enter Administrative Professionals Week, April 23-29, they are leaving behind last century's stereotypes.

This year, the 48th annual observance of Professional Secretaries Week will become Administrative Professionals Week, with Administrative Professionals Day on Wed., April 26. The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) made the change to more accurately reflect administrative professional's evolving and diverse role.

There are an estimated 5 million secretaries, administrative assistants, office managers, information coordinators, clerical staff and administrative managers in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of jobs in the administrative profession is expected to grow by more than 500,000, or 10 percent, in the next 10 years.

Loyalty is everything

According to the IAAP, the role of a secretary arose from the need for a person to whom confidential matters could be entrusted. This need still rings true. When asked what is the most important quality for today's administrative assistant, being loyal and trustworthy was rated number one by a quarter (25%) of Americans. Maintaining a professional attitude was number two, with 20 percent of responses. Roughly equal proportions feel that juggling multiple tasks at one time (13%) and remaining calm under pressure (12%) are the most important quality.

Difference is More Responsibility

The Avery Dennison survey also reveals that more than one in three Americans (36%) believes the biggest difference between the administrative professional of today and the secretary of yesteryear is they now have more responsibility in the office.

Other Changes

In addition to the increase in responsibilities, nearly one-fifth (18%) believe the major difference is that administrative professionals are now jacks of all trades. Slightly fewer (16%) see the difference as increasing tech savvy. More than one-tenth (11%) think the biggest difference is the enhanced career path of administrative professionals.

Learning software

More than two in five people (41%) think the most important skill an administrative assistant can have is the ability to master the latest software to organize data and work efficiently.

Keeping managers organized is seen as the most important skill by more than one-third (34%) of respondents. About one-tenth (11%) think the ability to use the Internet as a resource is most important. Not surprisingly, the time-honored tradition of making coffee for the boss is seen as important to only a few (3%).

Media Stereotypes

Office professionals can be found in many of today's popular television shows. When asked to name their favorite TV show administrative assistant, the top three vote getters were "Elaine" on "Ally McBeal" (14%), "Mimi" on "The Drew Carey Show" (13%) and "Karen" on "Will and Grace" (12%).

"This is the largest segment of America's workforce, and the popularity of these characters tells us how pivotal these jobs are," said Lim of Avery Dennison. "The characters' behavior might not be an accurate depiction of the majority of administrative professionals, but millions of us can identify with the situations these characters face and the dynamics of working in an office environment."

Yankelovich Partners, surveying 1,023 Americans age 18 and older conducted the Avery Dennison Administrative Professionals Week survey in March 2000. For complete survey results, visit

For information on the International Association of Administrative Professionals, visit

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