Laurie Taylor

November 23, 2001

Morning, Maureen. MORNING, MAUREEN!

Ah, Professor Lapping.

Cat got your tongue?

No, no. I was waiting for a fax from Dr Piercemuller about his conference expenses and got caught up in an article by Valerie Atkinson in The THES .

Another piece on the QAA?

No, it's about university secretaries.

University secretaries? In The THES ?

That's right. Apparently university secretaries are quite involved with higher education.

How do you mean?

Well, this piece points out that over the past 15 years, secretaries have had to acquire all sorts of specialist knowledge: advanced computer systems; complex communications; staff management; university funding; and teaching and research reviews. But it goes on to say that their pay and conditions remain as out of touch with their skills as in 1986.

Sounds like strong stuff.

It gets stronger. It suggests that many academics consider that they have their heads too full of clever ideas to consider such mundane issues as secretarial pay and that if many of the soft skills in which secretaries are expert were carried out by a man, they would have a grand title and be well paid.

And you agree with all that?

It certainly rings a bell.

Look at me, Maureen. That's right. Now, tell me if I'm wrong, but I think we both know what's at the bottom of all this new-found anger and frustration.

We do?

I think so. Let's face it. I could tell that you were disappointed by the Board's decision not to have a collection this year for your traditional Christmas box of chocolates. Am I right?

Gosh, Professor Lapping. You've got it in one. Now I know why you're an academic.

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