A woman’s…assets…have been a tool used by many an industry to sell sell sell, and honestly, it usually works. If presenting a lady in a low cut shirt creates more sales of a product, why not utilize that marketing technique, right? Wrong. Women in the cannabis industry aren’t just there to look pretty and help sell weed by revealing their bodies anymore – but it isn’t an easy transition to make.
In a business where the female plant is the one that makes all the money, one would think that human females would be just as highly valued.
Ladies have managed to create a place for themselves in this medical and recreational industry. It hasn’t been easy, and it still isn’t a level playing field by any means. In 2015, Marijuana Business Daily reported that 36% of executives in the cannabis industry were females. Sadly, that number has decreased and in 2017 only 27% of executive positions were held by females in the marijuana industry. The national average for women executives in 2016 was only 23% however, so by that count at least the cannabis industry is breaking some boundaries.
Mind you, just because a woman has made it to the executive level does not mean that she is necessarily going to receive executive level, boys club treatment.
As a former marketing executive for a startup cannabis app, I have personal experience with this exact issue. In one meeting I attended, where I was one of only two women present, I needed to be the voice of reason. I had to plead with the room (full of men) to not order a hot tub they wanted and not fly in Las Vegas ‘dancers’ to sit in said hot tub for our shared booth at the High Times Cannabis Cup. Each of these men felt like that was going to be the best way to market their products at the expansive three-day event. After much explaining that logistically (and hygienically) it was not a feasible idea, I convinced them that a shaded social area where people could take a break, take a seat, charge their phones on our branded charging stations and get free swag was a better idea.
In rooms like this, I would often get very anxious because the reaction to me was always a coin toss. When my ideas were liked, I was heralded for fighting to put my ideas forward but when my ideas were not liked, I was a bitch for making an argument. My boss called myself and our social media manager both “pumpkin” and bragged about hooking up with a married reporter we worked with for an interview about our product. It wasn’t easy to sit back and listen to him mansplaining everything, but I needed the job and I enjoyed the actual work, so I tried to keep my opinions to myself as much as I possibly could. Ultimately, my boss at that time smeared me to the owners, took credit for my ideas and work and eventually convinced them I was no longer needed.
Those experiences are not unique to me, to the man I worked for or to the company I worked with. It is part of what women in the cannabis industry deal with. We do it in order to have a seat at the table. It can be a steep price for some, and it takes serious resolve to be one of the 26% of female executives in this business.
Next time you see a female executive or female-owned cannabis business, take a moment to consider how hard it was for her to get to that place. She did not get there with her physical assets, but instead with her hard work and determination. The determination to create a path more easily tread for her future female colleagues. It isn’t easy, but someone has to do it.