I got into medical sales the usual way, first doing time in Pharma.
Luckily for me, my first company was a small Japanese one (Otsuka) and it was specialty sales (cardiology).
Because this was before HIPAA, I was legally allowed in patient spaces.
So, I did Wound Clinic rounds, observed procedures in the Cath Lab and even the Operating Room (observing carotid endarterectomies, fem-pop bypass procedures, even 2 open aortic aneurysm repairs).
Because of that, I mostly wore scrubs (usually size XL because the nurses would hand me whatever was available).
I never had the experience of feeling the need to dress ‘sexy’ to get a doctor’s attention…..until…..
When I moved to California, I began selling into the IVF space and calling on Drs in their offices. Wealthy, money-driven offices in Palo Alto, Redwood City and San Jose.
I dressed in my very East Coast practical black business suits (appropriate for inclement weather, appropriate for clinical business discussions).
But, IVF is all about the money. So my counterparts dressed in Gucci, Diane von Furstenberg and most wore Jimmy Cho’s or Louboutin’s.
I continued dressing in my black pantsuits until one day, my Men’s Warehouse-wearing boss said to me ‘Why do you dress so dark and boring? Wear a skirt!!’.
At the time, I was still adjusting to the high SF cost-of-living and, frankly, I was not being paid market rate for a Northern CA salesperson.
I simply couldn’t afford these clothes.
But, I found consignment shops and stylish friends entering the tech space who no longer needed sexy business outfits and I stopped wearing the pantsuits.
Now, years later, I wear what I want (I’m probably too old to be considered a sexual being anyway) and I dress more for the female nurses and Medical Assistants than male doctors (luckily there are more and more woman doctors- perhaps because men have found they make more money in tech so the title of ‘Dr’ is no longer as desirable).
So, I thought I could wear pretty much what I want, provided it’s professional and comfortable.
Now I do medical sales, albeit for a tech company. We have a typical start-up culture, a lot of Millennials who look like they’ve slept in their clothes or at least don’t own an iron (surprising considering their dry cleaning and laundry is paid for by the company).
The women in our corporate office dress either like schoolchildren or middle-aged Amish ones.
When I went through on boarding, I was given a men’s hoodie-size XL. I thought they made a mistake so I passed it along the line of mostly male hires. ‘Oh no! This is for YOU!’ they exclaimed, explaining to our non-SF based workers how ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ it is to wear hoodies.
I promptly gave mine to a homeless man when I got home (women’s salaries in tech aren’t affording me a Tesla or home in Silicon Valley anytime soon).
This Sunday, I’m wearing a Pink Pussy hat. This has gotten some controversy with people saying that wearing them is demeaning the cause. I guess that’s one view.
But, when I hear stories on Pantsuit Nation about disabled women knitting hats for others because they cannot physically attend on Sat, women from rural areas who feel solidarity wearing their Pink Pussy hats, grandmothers who’s knitting skills will be proudly on display, and women who want to re-claim the word ‘pussy’ and believe #tigersarepussiestoo !!
My hat is made by a dear friend, a pediatric nurse who’s smart, sweet and one tough kitty!
After receiving demands on what is appropriate to wear in the workplace, it feels good to wear whatever the fuck I want and march in solidarity.
Go get ’em tigers!!!