The cannabis industry is very women-friendly. As a matter fact, cannabis has more women in leadership roles than any other major industry in the United States.
In a 2015 study of 630 companies, 36 percent of executive-level cannabis roles were held by women, while the U.S. average for female executives in any industry is 22 percent. The percentage of women in executive positions varied depending on their sector, however, even most of the niches with the least amount of gender diversity still have significantly more women in higher-level jobs than the U.S. average. Below is a breakdown of female executives in the cannabis industry, based on their area of expertise:
Breakdown of women executives in the cannabis industry (Oct / 2015):
- Testing labs: 63%
- Processor/infused product producer: 48%
- Ancillary services: 40%
- Medical/recreational retailer: 38%
- Technology: 35%
- Wholesale cultivation: 33%
- Investment: 28%
According to Cassandra Farmington, co-founder of Marijuana Business Daily and former Citigroup employee, “I hit that glass ceiling at 100 miles an hour. There’s no question this is a huge area for entrepreneurship, and there are so many women fed up with the corporate arena who find cannabis more appealing.”
Similar to Farrington, many of the female cannabis executives and business owners already have considerable experience at banks, law firms, insurance agencies, hedge funds, consultancies, and other highly-regulated industries so they are well-aware of what’s required to deal with all the regulations and bureaucracy.
“I just got up one morning and read all the Colorado rules,” commented Peggy Moore, who spent 33 years working for United Health Group before becoming the CEO of Love’s Oven, a successful Denver-based cannabis bakery. “After dealing with all of the insurance industry’s regulations, it wasn’t that complicated.”
While this is definitely promising news, it doesn’t mean that sexism and misogyny is non-existent in the cannabis industry. Adverts of bikini or lingerie-clad women holding cannabis nugs and paraphernalia are a common sight at many dispensaries and in magazines and other publications. The growing/cultivation sector of the industry is still notoriously male-dominated and most of the attendees at major events are men. Some women still encounter that hostile “boys-club” attitude when trying to break into the industry.
Regardless, this is a problem that women often face in other industries and countries unfortunately. But the silver lining is that once they get past the initial antagonism of the cannabis business, they typically have much more room to grow and can do so more quickly than in traditional industries.
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