A Serious Shift: Sales, Science & Sports

A Serious Shift: Sales, Science & Sports

A look at how St. Kate’s continues to defy stereotypes to ensure women are taken seriously.
By Rachael Carlson '02

“Come. Come here. We take you seriously. We believe in your future. We know the world needs you. And we promise you the quality of education that will make a difference — that will give you the independence and confidence to take your place in the world, whatever you choose that to be.” — spoken wholeheartedly by President Becky Roloff during her inaugural address on October 11, 2016.

From politics to sports to corporate America, there has been plenty of discussion around taking women seriously. This is a nation where female full-time workers make 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent. And where Harvard’s 2016 men’s soccer season was canceled following reports of team members ranking female recruits based on their physical attractiveness and sexual appeal. Yes, this is actually still happening.

So now what? With obstacles like these, how do we lead and create change? We do it through opportunity and equality, and by inspiring progress, innovation and leadership. At least that’s what St. Kate’s does, every day, all day — for the past 111 years.

Take, for instance, the fact that St. Kate’s was the first and only university in the United States to offer majors, minors and certificates in healthcare sales.

SALESMAN VS. SALESWOMAN

A recent MedReps.com survey found an ongoing cultural perception that sales is still a male-dominated profession, “often viewed as being more technical and requiring... acumen that seems to be more congruent with society’s overall view of salesmen vs. saleswomen.”

St. Kate’s responds to this stereotype by offering sales majors the classes and experiences needed to overcome them. Students are trained in business analytics. They can focus on the medical device and product side, or the pharmaceutical and insurance aspects of healthcare.

Healthcare sales majors are required to complete an internship, which for some may entail “calling on customers while driving a company car with a company laptop in tow,” says Mary Henderson, professor of business administration. “We’re valued because of our rigor and depth in sales, the sciences and in other business courses,” she adds. “Companies respond very favorably to the quality of our students and alumnae. In fact, our students often receive multiple internship and job offers from companies like 3M, Johnson & Johnson, Owens & Minor, Medtronic, Boston Scientific and many other organizations.”

The number of women entering the healthcare sales field has increased over the last 10 years, with no sign of slowing down. And why should it? According to the 2016 Medical Device Salary Report, the average medical device sales income is $147,857 and, while travel or long hours away from family may be part of the job, autonomy and flexibility are as well. Another plus, noted a MedReps.com survey: medical sales professionals possess the “ability to make an impact” on patient outcomes.

LET’S TALK SCIENCE

As women continue to make great strides, there is still a huge gap and lack of representation in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. According to the 2015 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make up 47 percent of the total U.S. workforce, but are much less represented in science and engineering occupations. Only 39 percent of chemists and material scientists, 28 percent of environmental scientists and geoscientists, 16 percent of chemical engineers and just 12 percent of civil engineers are women.

So, how is St. Kate’s helping to get more women involved in STEM fields? For starters, the University created an amazing chemistry and biochemistry program, along with a minor in STEM.

The program is heavily focused on research, preparing students to pursue graduate work in chemistry or biochemistry, as well as professional programs in medicine, chemical engineering, environmental engineering, pharmacology and medical technology. All chemistry seniors and juniors meet every Friday to work on presentation skills and to connect with faculty on possible collaborative research projects. Students are schooled in toxicology and green chemistry — the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances.

“Now, more than ever, we need women to be strong leaders in the sciences,” says Gina Mancini-Samuelson, professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “Because our world is faced with many challenges — providing clean water for all, managing energy resources, ensuring a safe food supply and understanding how actions impact human health — solutions to these problems are going to need to come from our next generation of scientists. They will need to listen carefully, critically evaluate information and think creatively.”

Role models are another reason St. Kate’s is a fetching location for women looking to pursue careers in STEM — 82 percent of our faculty are women. The majority of our science professors are also diligent researchers with doctorates from nationally recognized chemistry, biology and mathematics programs.

SERIOUS STRENGTH IN SPORTS

As much as women’s sports has evolved, female athletes still face sexism, lack of media coverage and business endorsements, unequal program funding, and, of course, lack of equal pay. The U.S. women’s national soccer team received $2 million for winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup, while Germany’s men’s soccer team took home $35 million for the 2014 World Cup. Fair?

Thankfully, St. Kate’s is dedicated to empowering women athletes and eliminating gender inequity. Since 1983, the University has been a member of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), one of the strongest NCAA Division III conferences in the nation. And it’s student athletes like Abby Conzemius ’17, who excels in both the classroom and in competition, that are keeping St. Kate’s on track.

“I feel fortunate that I joined St. Kate’s golf team,” says Conzemius. “We have a strong program that gets stronger every year, and [through the support of my coaches and professors] I was able to pursue all my goals and grow as an individual while playing golf on an extremely competitive team.”

When asked about the unfair treatment of women in sports, Conzemius — who holds a leadership position on the Wildcat Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and led the Wildcats to the 2016 MIAC championship last fall — offers this advice: advocate for yourself, and other women.

“In situations where stereotypes occur, I just try to show that my skill set is worthy and I try to educate others,” she says. “Knowledge helps break barriers. In sports, having more women present as coaches and athletics directors will allow for growth and provide a different perspective on how to coach and mentor young athletes.”

Great advice from a Wildcat — and a science major (biology) to boot!

St. Kate's is the first Minnesota college or University to offer a STEM certificate, and the only one requiring STEM coursework for elementary ed majors.

St. Kate's is the first Minnesota college or University to offer a STEM certificate, and the only one requiring STEM coursework for elementary ed majors.


Sales majors at St. Kate's regularly hone presentation skills in the classroom and at national sales conferences. Photo by Rebecca Zenefski, by Rebecca Studios.

Sales majors at St. Kate's regularly hone presentation skills in the classroom and at national sales conferences. Photo by Rebecca Zenefski, by Rebecca Studios.


 Sydney Busker '19 was one of four Wildcats who led the golf team to its first-ever MIAC Championship. Photo by St. Kate's Athletics.

Sydney Busker '19 was one of four Wildcats who led the golf team to its first-ever MIAC Championship. Photo by St. Kate's Athletics.

 


A WILDCAT FIRST

St. Kate’s will play the NCAA women’s golf tournament May 9–12 in Texas. Visit stkatesathletics.com for details


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Pauline Oo
MAOL Cert ’14, MBA '16

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