UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Knowledge and skill requirements in clerical work Hamilton, Gillian


The focus of the thesis is on a comparison of management job descriptions with accounts of knowledge and skill requirements in clerical work, using a set of eleven dimensions. Three jobs occupied by women are investigated. The organizations vary from a small, private-interest office to a large public bureaucracy. Case one is an administrative clerk from a trade association. The second case is a clerk-stenographer from a planning department of a municipality. The final case is an accounts payable clerk from a linen supply company. Data for analysis come from interview and observation records. The emphasis of the investigation is on the ingenuity with which these employees carry out their work. It was found that the clerks require more skills than are officially recognized. In all cases management underestimated the skills required, and the contribution the women make to the organization. Official job descriptions are a product of rationalistic practices, and yet it is argued that they are also expressions of patriarchal ideology.

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