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Gender Parity In The Cannabis Industry


Gender equality in the workplace has been a hot topic since women entered the workforce. The issue stems from the idea that the “workforce” of modern industries were established by men. Women got a very late start on the race up the corporate ladder.

When the tech industry broke out in the 80’s we saw what a new capitalistic sector can do to level the playing field. In 1984 women made up 37% of computer science graduates according to girlswhocode.com. There seems to be a fighting chance when there’s a more equal start.


With the cannabis industry still in its infancy we can see the equivalent opportunity for women. In 2015, according to Marijuana Business Daily, “the leading business news information resource for the medical marijuana and retail cannabis industry,”women held 36% of executive positions on the green scene. Compare that to the national average of only 22%. From a high of 63% of executive positions in testing labs to 28% of investment positions, it really is greener on the other side of the fence for women in cannabis.

In all management areas of the cannabis industry, women hold a greater percentage of executive positions. Even minorities hold a higher than average percentage in cannabis.

The science sector behind the booming marijuana market holds the highest percentage of female workforce, shattering the glass ceiling with almost three times the average of all U.S. businesses at 63%. Test laboratories are one of the most profitable sectors of the industry but this isn’t why women are dominating the field.

For the same reasons the average American household finds women making the healthcare choices for their families it seems these women have a genuinely compassionate interest in the cutting edge cannabis research potentiality.

Recently released globally, “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed”, a documentary by award winning filmmaker Windy Borman, explores this concept and others. Women are changing the face of today’s fastest growing industry – cannabis. Borman discovers how they’re also changing the world through a series of empowering and educational interviews with a broad diversity of women leading the industry today.

Borman’s presentation of leading women in the industry was a grand step in reshaping the way women, weed, and industry unite. I spoke to Borman about why she thinks women choose the cannabis industry and her responses about cannabis falling under the health and wellness category, thereby resonating with more women.

Borman emphasizes that, “Women don’t necessarily want to ‘take over.’ They want parity, an even playing field. There is no ‘glass ceiling’ in the cannabis industry because everyone is figuring it out as they go.”

While the field is level and the green light currently applies equally, closing the workforce gender gap may still only be temporary. Using the tech industry again as a comparison, girlswhocode.com reported the number of women graduating with computer science degrees has plummeted to just 12%. Similarly, the percentage of women holding executive positions at cannabis businesses has fallen substantially over the past two years. In 2017 Marijuana Business Daily conducted a follow up survey to their 2015 survey and found that women now only hold an average 27% of executive-level roles in the marijuana industry, down from 36%.

There are many theories as to why the drop has been so precipitous. Marijuana Business Daily, stated “a tremendous amount of change has come to the marijuana industry in the past two years … the executive structure of businesses in the traditional economy – where males occupy more than 75% of senior roles – has begun to seep into the marijuana industry”.

As the industry ages and blends with traditional markets, the demographics internal to the cannabis industry will fluctuate. As marijuana proves itself as a profitable industry, those with more interest and ability to capitalize will flood the market, driving down the numbers of those with a genuinely compassionate interest including women and minorities. So far, the cannabis industry holds significantly higher percentages of women in executive roles than the national average, let’s hope it stays that way.

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