Mumsnet Logo
My feed

to access all these features


To be annoyed at being asked at work to prepare drinks and serve lunch

155 replies

Livingtothefull · 25/07/2015 11:07

I work in an office with around 4 other people, all female, and have been here about 6 months. A couple in the office are PAs and there is a more junior person who supports them & me. I work in a recognised profession and was employed specifically in that professional capacity in a new standalone role; because mine is broadly speaking a 'back office' rather than customer faced role I have been put together in the department with the others although our jobs are largely separate.

It so happens that there is a meeting next week for which a sandwich lunch has been ordered and none of the others will be in the office that day....I have been asked to make sure the sandwiches are laid out and make the teas/coffees.

I am quite prepared to be told I am being arrogant and over precious but: AIBU to be really annoyed about this? I don't intend to denigrate anyone who has chosen a PA role; they are often very talented/qualified people in my experience. Also it is not that I am not willing to support colleagues and muck in when necessary.

But I have worked really hard and studied in my own time & expense to achieve senior professional status and get respect, and so I could do interesting work in the office which I have chosen to do. I also need to get taken seriously so that colleagues understand what I can bring to the business & approach me for support, this is already proving challenging. It is quite a traditional company & I have already been introduced by a senior manager to staff as 'the new (profession name) Assistant' (not my correct job title).

So I think some people are already confused about what my role is. How is it going to help if I am seen to carrying jugs of tea & fruit juice, and trays of sandwiches for meetings?

The meeting by the way is mostly internal and all male..I am not involved in it at all. I am annoyed that it always seems to be the women by default who are asked to do these tasks (there are various male workers in support roles who never get asked).

OP posts:

TattyDevine · 25/07/2015 11:11

If there is a male support worker involved in the meeting who will not be at full capacity before the meeting who can do it, he should.

The fact the PA's will not be in the office is relevant here - but if you have work to be getting on with and there are male support staff available, it is wrong that you have been asked.

If they are all busy in some kind of training or for the meeting before the sandwiches etc needs coming out and you are the only one who can feasilbly do it to keep things running smoothly, its not so bad for you to muck in unless you have a major deadline.

I'm with you on this generally, there is often still sexism surrounding the bringing of drinks and other personal requirements in an office environment.


Sighing · 25/07/2015 11:11

None of the others will be in the office that day.

Eer. Yabu. It's fallen to you by dint of ^ surely?


nocoolnamesleft · 25/07/2015 11:12

Your final paragraph is what makes them the unreasonable ones.


iamanintrovert · 25/07/2015 11:14

If you are not part of the meeting, definitely DO NOT prepare the food - not one tiny bit of it. I recommend finding a reason to be out of the office or unavailable in the hour before lunch.


StillStayingClassySanDiego · 25/07/2015 11:15

I'd be very pissed off if I were in your position and would want to know why the men organising the meeting expect you to organise the catering .


UrethraFranklin1 · 25/07/2015 11:15

It doesn't matter if its because the other back office staff won't be in. It's not your job, and you should say so. You've been asked to do it because you sit with the support staff and are in possession of a vagina.
One of the junior men from the all male meeting can do it. IT's their meeting, it has nothing at all to do with your role.


WorraLiberty · 25/07/2015 11:15

You've spoken up about this and about being referred to as an assistant though, right?

If you want to be taken seriously in your profession, then communication is key here.


PuppyMonkey · 25/07/2015 11:16

Tell them you are out too at a meeting.


Livingtothefull · 25/07/2015 11:17

Yes. Just to be clear there are plenty of others in the office but the PAs in my department aren't in that day. There are other workers who could do this but would probably think it absurd to be asked. That is precisely my point.

OP posts:

CamelHump · 25/07/2015 11:17

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CamelHump · 25/07/2015 11:18

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Duckdeamon · 25/07/2015 11:19

did you speak to the person who introduced you as an assistant? I would politely refuse to sort out food for a meeting I was not attending: the most junior of the meeting attendees should do this, with advice beforehand on what he needs to do from one of the administrators.


StillStayingClassySanDiego · 25/07/2015 11:19

Why should she set up the table camel?


CamelHump · 25/07/2015 11:20

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SweetAndFullOfGrace · 25/07/2015 11:21

So there is a meeting full of competent adults and they need food. And you're not one of said adults at this meeting.

I'm sure a note left on the meeting room table to the effect of "lunch is in the office kitchen" would suffice.

I wouldn't make a big deal of it other than that. Quiet resistance on this sort of issues is more effective I think.


BackforGood · 25/07/2015 11:22

Difficult to know.
Where I work, everyone would muck in (indeed, when we have a lunch for any reason, it tends to be we all bring a contribution rather than anything being ordered in - but that tends to be so we all have a nice lunch together, not for outside clients). The Team manager does her equal share too though.
If there isn't anyone else in the office, then I'd have thought any person who works there who is in, would be expected to help out though? It's not like you are making it, just taking the lids off pre-ordered trays of sandwiches? I don't see why anyone should be 'above' that. But then, I'd expect whoever is hosting / whoever invited people to be making any arrangements needed.

It will depend on the culture of the office, ant the industry/service/business area you work in, and what the cultrue is there though.

The being introduced by an incorrect title is a different matter though - separate from this. I'd have corrected that at the time it happened.


UrethraFranklin1 · 25/07/2015 11:23

There are other workers who could do this but would probably think it absurd to be asked.

As should you. The real point though is whether you are going to do it and moan here, or stand up for yourself, as no doubt any of the men who were erroneously asked would do?


PuppyMonkey · 25/07/2015 11:25

Back - there are lots of other people in, the PAs are all out. OP happens to sit near them. Tis not on at all IMHO. You definitely need to be out at an important meeting.


Livingtothefull · 25/07/2015 11:25

I need to tackle these things appropriately but nobody wants a reputation as 'awkward/difficult' when they are in a new role. I do think there is a lot of unthinking prejudice out there still; don't believe anyone would dream of approaching say a male IT support worker, to ask them to do this.

OP posts:

Hissy · 25/07/2015 11:26

So how can you put this back on them?

id go back to them and say that as you aren't part of the meeting and are not a support worker that you won't be willing to set up lunch or wait on perfectly capable colleagues. I'd also suggest that if you were asked because you're a woman, that you find it sexist and offensive.

If the culture is like this, I'd suggest you look for another job, because even the manager doesn't recognise your role/value.


Hissy · 25/07/2015 11:27

Being "out" doesn't confront this issue. Better to be considered a bit awkward than routinely treated like waiting staff when you're not employed as such.


Queenbean · 25/07/2015 11:28

Absolutely not.

This happened to me when I started my job, I kept being referred to as a PA and asked to set up meetings etc. I refused, basically, always politely but explaining that wasn't my job and could they ask to do it

Drove me mad. I am absolutely certain it was because I was a woman, my office is very male dominated


Queenbean · 25/07/2015 11:29

"because I was a woman"

Correction: because I AM a woman, no sex change op for me!


Marshy · 25/07/2015 11:29

Who would be sorting out the sandwiches next week if you weren't there? I'd be tempted to take leave for the day. They'd have to sort it out or starve!


Hissy · 25/07/2015 11:30

A new person has the chance to change perceptions. If you let this situation pass it sets a precedent, for you and for others.

You're going to have to be someone who says something, perhaps you'll raise your profile and people will realise you're not a PA or an assistant but the professional you were actually hired to be.

Polite, calm but firm.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?