The Principal’s Gals

Elementary School SecretariesElementary School Principals: The Women in the Principal’s Office

Submitter: I came across this book in our collection. It is from 1991 and has never been checked out. There is so much wrong with this title. It sort of implies or assumes that principals are male and secretaries are female. Period. The subtitle even sounds kind of bad. There is no mention of technology in the book and one section is called “Jane of all trades.” So much has changed regarding student issues and laws over the last 20 years that this book is sorely outdated.

Holly:  At first, I thought it was implying that all elementary school principals are female.  Then I realized it isn’t a book about principals at all!  There’s no reason for a school library to hang on to this one.

Elementary School Secretaries contents

Jane of All Trades


  1. I’d say this book was anachronistic when it was published; it sounds like something out of the ’60s or earlier. Were women principals really so rare in 1991?

  2. Here we go: 30% of public-school principals and over 50% of private-school principals were women in 1990-1991.

    Of course, the book is about secretaries, not principals, and I’ll bet the number of male secretaries in school offices hasn’t seen the same increase. Still, the implications are unfortunate to say the least.

  3. Update about SOPA/PIPA and the blackout:

    This is an issue worth thinking about. The future of the Internet and accessible information is at stake. Many website are participating in the blackout.

  4. Cavalier, me too! Or perhaps even a soft porn novel (some of the romance genre falls into this anyway).

  5. What’s with the clock? What does that have to do with secretaries? Are they the ones that control the master clock in the school building?

  6. Actually, I don’t think this book is prescriptive (what school secretaries should do, like a career book), but descriptive – based on the page close-up, it’s an qualitative study of school secretaries. I’m not quite sure if it’s ethnographic or not. But it was undoubtedly a PhD thesis that the author managed to get published as a book.

    It might be of some interest in a university library, but probably not in a elementary or secondary school.

  7. Oh, ye gods, never mind either the stupidity of the subject matter or the author’s (alleged) name. The entire “Jane of All Trades” paragraph is entirely superfluous, wasting a hundred words or so on “this is what I’m going to write about, and how I’m going to write about it, and in what order, and what I’m going to say in what order…..”

    I seem to remember that high school writing classes and university “English 101” courses I was exposed to basically take those incapable of expressing anything at all in writing and get them to write in this fashion. Then once you got into actual advanced writing classes, the professors (at least the ones I had) basically trained you to “cut the balderdash and simplify.”

  8. I agree that I rarely see male secretaries in school offices. I don’t know why that would be. Maybe partially that the pay level is equivalent or less to heavy lifting jobs? Certain warehouse jobs etc. are much easier for many men than women and are more available than secretarial positions especially these days. Even janitorial work, which I’ve done, does have a heavy lifting component to it. Though that doesn’t explain the gender imbalance for ‘driving’ jobs.

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