Katie Gibbs Cuckold
A peek inside the venerable Katie Gibbs School
In some circles, it wasn't socially acceptable to be a secretary in those days. Secretaries were seen as exploited, and "Katie Gibbs" aided by funneling women into those types of jobs. But attitudes have changed. The National Organization for Women has apologized to secretaries nationwide for labeling the profession as demeaning. Feminist leader Gloria Steinem has been speaking to organizations of office workers. And Gibbs, the "creme de la creme" of secretarial schools, is expanding. Walking into the Boston branch of the school, one feels it would be hard to ruffle the feathers of this staid yet friendly institution. The classes are held in a comfortable but mildly formal converted home near the Boston Public Garden. Behind huge wooden doors young women and a few young men type, take dictation, polish their English skills, or talk about office strategies. The formal classroom atmosphere is startling. The young women sit in neatly lined rows of desks, and they look intent and respectful. As a class bell rings , a teacher says "Notebooks and mouths closed. Throughout the country Katharine Gibbs is known as a bastion of tradition. It has an image of combining secretarial training with the primness of a finishing school, and the result is supposed to be devoted secretaries who skillfully perform their duties while looking like fashion plates. That is, except on a recent day when this observer glances into a Gibbs classroom on a recent morning and sees well- groomed young women in overalls, blue jeans, and sneakers. As the students file quietly from one room to another , one student notices the puzzled look on the visitor's face. We have to pay a quarter to do it. Although Katharine Gibbs keeps up the veneer of tradition and propriety, the institution is changing to meet the times. There are two types of secretaries, reports Miss Sullivan -- professional and progressional. She sees a need for both kinds.