Attitudes toward tech writers (Was: Re[2]: secretary's day)

Subject: Attitudes toward tech writers (Was: Re[2]: secretary's day)
From: Penny Staples <pstaples -at- AIRWIRE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 16:01:01 -0500

This isn't just about "What to do if one is mistaken for a secretary". I
think the real issue we're discussing is how others (management, co-workers)
perceive Tech Writers in the workplace.

Some professions seem to have a prestige that goes with the job title (e.g.,
Doctor, Mechanical Engineer). Most people have some idea about what they do
for a living. However as a Tech Writer, I often run into people who haven't
worked with someone in my profession before, and who have no real idea of
what we do.

If people like this develop the idea that writing and editing are jobs that
can be performed by clerical staff, then the profession becomes devalued for
us all. Why hire a writer for $40 an hour or more when we can get the "girls
in the office" to do it for $12 an hour? (I've seen this one happen).

I'm interested in finding out what strategies others are using to make sure
they get taken seriously as professionals (seriously enough to get salaries
in the same pay range as developers). Here are the things that occur to me:

- Write well and write quickly (shouldn't need to be said, I know).
- Market yourself. Let your co-workers know what you're working on.
- Get involved in project meetings.
- When it's appropriate, look for opportunities to expand your role (e.g.,
information management on a web-site).
- Keep up with trends in your profession, including changes in technology
and tools.

Penny Staples
pstaples -at- airwire -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
From: Walker, Arlen P <Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM>
Date: April 22, 1998 3:18 PM
Subject: Re[2]: secretary's day

> John, I'm so glad you don't mind being called a secretary. I have a
> 300 page manuscript for which the file has been deleted. Somehow, we
> can't find the file for this document anywhere. Fortunately, we do
> have a hard copy, so someone can re-type it into a new file.
>Sure. Drop it in the sheet feeder over there on the scanner and I'll email
>you the file for proofreading in a little bit. ;{>} Wonderful invention,
>OCR software. Don't understand how offices got along without it.
>Seriously, I think this is blowing it a little out of proportion. The
>original poster didn't have anyone asking her to do secretarial work, all
>she had was some well-intentioned but misguided individual trying to do
>something nice for her.
>Have fun,
>Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
>DNRC 224
>Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
>In God we trust; all others must provide data.
>Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
>If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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