Question: I've been an administrative assistant/event planner at a nonprofit for almost three years now. Of the 14 assistant-type people (secretaries, administrative assistants, executive secretaries, executive assistants, etc.), employed here, four are under age 26. The other 10 assistants are in their mid-50s, which is fine by me as long as they're qualified and capable of doing the work.
I'm one of the "young" ones. I've been called a "young girl" by the other ladies, treated like a young girl, and even been looked down upon as if I'm the older ladies' child. That's not a problem for me because I can easily ignore this. I know I'm not a young girl and, apparently, I was the best person for my job, because the senior staff hired me.
The problem begins for me when the older women start having little huddle talks at their desks and it's obvious they're talking about the younger assistants. They also refuse to listen to our (the young girls') ideas or ask us for help when there are things that we can definitely help with.
When we do offer our services (without their invitation) because we have heard them discussing -- rather loudly -- their predicament, they don’t even listen to us and treat us like we know nothing because of our age. It's very discomforting to me to see older women like this who could be setting a great example for administrative professionals our age act like no one matters but them.
All of them have been in their positions three years or less, so it isn't like they're more qualified than any one else on the job. When we have knowledge-share luncheons, they talk about all the difficulty they have with certain parts of their job and disregard our comments and suggestions.
How can one address an issue like this effectively without causing office tension? I would just like to be on an even playing field with all of them so that we can help one another out and all be successful in our positions. I’m sure I’m not the only who has or will encounter something like this but, quite frankly, it’s very immature of people to have attitudes like this. -- Anonymous