Not sure if I'm simply opening up a can of worms with what I'm going to say, but what happened yesterday got me thinking.
Was at Bible study yesterday evening and since it was my first time, I was naturally introduced to everybody. What was interesting was a conversation I had with one of the guys at the end.
There were the usual get to know you questions, and I was asked what I did for a living, to which I replied, "I work with Letrica at the church office."
"Oh, so you're a secretary then."
"Er, actually, no. I'm involved in public relations."
And I could immediately see that I had thrown him off-balance. There was a look of slight incomprehension in his eyes, but he quickly recovered and continued the conversation with a "you must be a real people-person then".
It's actually not the first time I've been mistaken for a secretary after telling someone where I work, and it only ever happens if I talk to a church member. (That is, unless they recognise my name, with which I get a completely different response along the lines of "Oh, so you're the Melody Tan!" that is followed by a very embarrassed murmur of acknowledgement from me.)
Why do people immediately assume if you're female and working for the church, you've got to be in secretarial work?
Then again, I guess it doesn't really help that it is the reality, at least within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific. There are more females working in the office than males, but the proportion of females in high-level decision-making positions are few and far between. Of the females working here, I think about two thirds of them are secretaries, or in some kind of support work or other.
Why are there so few females involved in non-secretarial work within the church?
Is it because such positions don't exist?
Is it because women are simply not good enough?
Is it because we're not interested in working for the church?
Is this happening only just within the Seventh-day Adventist Church?
Disclaimer: I'm not saying that being a secretary is not a proper job or anything like that. I'm just wondering why women in the church have become so typecast - they're either secretaries, nurses or teachers. Can't they be anything else?