Corporate payroll guidelines that base secretarial compensation not on skills and job requirements, but on the level and relative importance of the person to whom each secretary reports.
Women in professional jobs have workplace issues like the glass ceiling and the mommy track.
But now there is one for secretaries: rug-ranking.
“If the secretary’s pay is based on her boss’s status, not on the content of her job, that’s rug-ranking — treating her as a perk like the size of his office or the quality of the carpet on his floor,” said N. Elizabeth Fried, a labor consultant based in Dublin, Ohio.
—Tamar Lewin, “As the Boss Goes, So Goes the Secretary: Is It Bias?,” The New York Times, March 17, 1994
But there are signs of progress. Fried has conducted surveys showing that in recent years many more companies are acknowledging secretaries’ enhanced duties by moving away from the old-fashioned “rug-ranking” method of pay—in other words, paying a secretary according to her boss’ level instead of the content of the secretary’s job.
—Kim S. Hirsh, “Secretaries gain in worth but not in pay,” Chicago Tribune, April 24, 1994
Research on a major corporation revealed that men received more encouragement from superiors to improve and advance, but so did newer employees, and the better educated; concluding that sex was only one determinant in encouragement. Two thirds of the women in the sample were made up of ,secretaries. The study noted the short secretarial hierarchy with increased rank a reflection of the status of the boss (rug-ranking) rather than the secretary‘s work.
—Penny Biles, “Sex Differences and Work Patterns: A Case Study of a Community College,” McMaster University, February 1, 1978