By Kate E. Stephenson
While this isn’t exactly recent news, it was devastating news for me—Katharine Gibbs Schools closed as of 2009.While they say old news is no news, on this one point I do beg to differ. Katharine Gibbs was one of the most influential women in terms of female employment in American history. Yes, that may be a broad, sweeping statement but I stand behind it. Immortalized in Judith Krantz’ iconic novel Scruples (and my first introduction to its legacy of excellence), Katharine Gibbs was not a two-bit typing tutorial but a professional preparation school that turned out the best executive support staff for almost 100 years, many of whom later rose to be Executives themselves. “Gibbs girls” were the crème de la crème of secretaries in the heyday of the school.
Ms. Gibbs elevated the status of the functional role of secretary and helped elevate the understanding of women as professionals in the workforce. The legacy of Katharine Gibbs is one of high standards, impeccable professionalism, and polished poise. It saddens me that such a classic exemplar of Katedom has passed into memory—but those who believe there is something in a name know the essence of Katharine Gibbs lives on.
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