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Dynamics of Word Processing

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Reactions of Secretaries To Word Processing

The traditional secretary treasures a close relationship with top management. To be successful, he or she must have a personality that meshes with that of the principal. The secretary's status depends on the job title of the principal, not upon objective evaluation of his or her work. A secretary who is established in the executive suite is not likely to covet the word processor's job. However, "intelligent" typewriters such as the IBM 75 and Qyx are being placed at the disposal of secretaries. Thus, they are being mainstreamed into word processing systems. Secretaries may coordinate with the word processing centers for the more routine and repetitive work while they perform the important rush and confidential tasks.

More and more secretaries, though, welcome the freedom from routine that automated typing brings. Some of them opt for jobs in word processing centers. They enjoy the opportunities such positions offer for producing larger volumes of higher quality documents and they like the idea of being "word specialists." Others are attracted to the administrative support center. Although they realize that administrative secretaries have to adjust to the whims of several bosses rather than just one, they see their opportunities for promotion increased in direct proportion to the number of principals they serve. In both cases, they perceive the career paths available within the centers themselves whenever they develop their supervisory and administrative skills.

Most important of all, the office worker of tomorrow must be flexible and ready to accept change. Word processing is bringing the kind of dramatic change that data processing triggered ten years ago. Anyone now in an office job or preparing for one must accept change and adjust to it. In fact, the areas in which changes are occurring are the areas in which the greatest opportunities lie.


Some companies equate salaries of administrative secretaries and correspondence secretaries. They try to make job opportunities parallel between the two centers as workers qualify for more responsible jobs.

In actual practice however, salaries of word processors are slightly lower than for traditional employees in the secretarial field. A review of the Sixth Salary Survey Results 1980, researched and compiled by the International Word Processing Association (now International Information/Word Processing Association), reveals that the average weekly salary of a word processing operator, $218.92, is below that of stenographer but slightly above the earnings of key entry operator. A word processing supervisor, however, receives an average weekly salary of $309.79, which is above that of secretary B but lower than the earnings of secretary A. Salaries are rising, as reflected in a comparison of recent statistics. For example, salaries for word processing supervisors increased 12.5 percent from 1979 to 1980.

Is Shorthand Obsolete?

A news release from the International Information/Word Processing Association recently stated that "Shorthand skill is becoming an archaic job requirement." Is this statement true?

Want ads for stenographers and secretaries in the daily press and job listings in employment offices refute the statement. The 80 percent of offices without word processing systems refute it also.

So does a statistical compendium of different surveys of members of The Professional Secretaries Association which reflects that 73 percent of the secretaries transcribe from shorthand compared to 30 percent from machine dictation. (Some, of course, do both.)

But don't administrative secretaries need shorthand, too, even if they do not transcribe their notes into usable business documents? If they can take shorthand, they can save time and be more productive. Secretaries who dictate to word processing centers can organize their ideas for the dictation into logical sequence by making shorthand notes. Letters that are thought through carefully come back in usable form rather than in rough draft.

Administrative secretaries can save time, too, in researching material for reports, in drafting procedures, or in abstracting material if they can make shorthand notes. If they make notes during interviews with other company personnel, they can provide themselves, and often their principals, with exact records. They can take notes in shorthand during meetings and later prepare typewritten proceedings of a conference or a committee meeting. The proceedings or minutes will be available faster if they use shorthand than if they have to listen to a complete recording. Obviously, shorthand is indispensable for recording telephone conversations, whether the secretary is monitoring a conversation between a principal and an outside caller or is simply taking a message. A final argument for learning shorthand is the advantage it gives the administrative secretary who decides to change jobs. It is often the ace up the sleeve that makes the difference.

As Ruth Anderson says, "The business establishment that considers shorthand to be an archaic job requirement has not been studying the productivity of its administrative secretaries. And isn't that productivity what word processing is all about?"
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