« I'm just as qualified as a woman »
Bruce Sénéchal, age 39 Office Systems Technician
“Well, I guess he won’t be wearing a skirt to work!” I heard jokes like that at my first full-time job with a shoe manufacturer. The guys at the plant had never seen a man do secretarial work. They couldn’t believe their eyes!
When I enrolled at O’Sullivan College, it was mainly to develop basic skills in French, English, computers and accounting. I honestly didn’t expect to find myself surrounded by women! I was one of four guys in a class of 32 students. Let’s just say we didn’t go unnoticed! Although things worked out fine in the end, I must admit that I almost quit in the early days, which would have been the biggest mistake of my life, since I really enjoy what I do.
At the college, when my skills were recognized, I was encouraged and eventually they helped me find a job. I think the school administrators were very pleased to recommend a male candidate. I joined the work force without a hitch. I never felt that employers doubted my skills—on the contrary. They were all ready to give me a chance, and they never regretted their decision.
Being a secretary requires structure and organization, which I have in spades! I think I even changed some preconceived notions about men given that I am reliable, thorough, punctual, and a bit of a perfectionist. I always enjoy showing that I’m just as qualified as a woman—and why shouldn’t I be just as successful at what I do?
People often tease me about my work, but never in a derogatory way. I should mention that I’m not a secretary in the traditional sense. There are secretarial programs offered in secondary school, but the Office Systems Technology program I took is more involved and leads to a diploma of college studies. However, since the two programs are related, people confuse them. To be honest, I really don’t like the word ‘secretary.’ It’s so simplistic and stereotypical. The cliché of a secretary who does her nails while awaiting her boss’s instructions is very pervasive. Nobody wants to be associated with that.
That said, a man shouldn’t deprive himself of going into the field of his choice just because it’s female-dominated. You have to follow your heart and persevere.
I now have a full-time position with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, working in computer security. The job is stimulating, varied and motivating, and I even get to travel around the country. During the interview, I learned that despite what one might think, the work was done mainly by women, which of course wasn’t a problem for me—I’ve grown accustomed to working with women!