Monday, November 28, 2005

Sis Boom Bah

You thought college cheerleading was silly? That all those young people take away after senior year is a souvenir megaphone and the memory of a little slap and tickle in the school van on the tail end of a road trip?

Not so. Conveying enthusiasm and getting people to do what you want them to do are abilities that come in handy in business. Being a cute athletic young woman never hurt either. Anyway, according to this article, there is a pipeline between being a cheerleader (especially at a big state school where the sports culture is king) and working as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company.

I find this kind of thing interesting. Maybe because I didn't have a clue about career planning or networking when I was in school, I'm intrigued by people who really do leverage their school ties and networks. I also find it interesting that below the George W. Bush league of prep school and Ivy League cronyism, there's a regional brand of social networking driven by college sports and fraternities/sororities. I haven't tested this theory, but I suspect that by studying a list of, say, the 1965 DKE pledge class at Chapel Hill, you could figure out quite a bit about business and politics in the state of North Carolina today.

So being a cheerleader is a ticket to a high-paying sales job. Besides the benefit of being an attractive perky woman, there are advantages to being, for instance, a former University of Kentucky cheerleader when calling on doctors in Kentucky. Of course, it mainly works for women, since female sexuality has more exchange value in the marketplace. (We still feel a little weird about male cheerleaders, don't we?) I also wonder if we'll ever read of a pipeline of college athletes into a certain profession--say, that lacrosse goalies make great dentists, or soccer forwards make great clinical psychologists--and if not, why not. Isn't cheerleading the derivative activity, the auxiliary, the parasitic?

Looksism is nothing new, I guess, and I give these women credit for combining beauty with some brain power and initiative, and making some real money. Though it's disturbing to think of doctors dispensing meds because of the bounce of the sales rep's pom-poms, not whether patients benefit from the meds. And it makes me wonder whether Big Pharma devotes nearly as much insight and innovation to developing new medicines as they do to highly-focused efforts to hire cheerleaders.

No comments: