The cannabis industry is known to be among the most female-friendly industries in the country, boasting more than a third of women executives. However, recently it seems the number of female leaders in the cannabis space has dropped.
A survey conducted by Marijuana Business Daily found that women currently hold 27 percent of executive positions in the cannabis industry, while in 2015, they held 36 percent. While this nine percent drop is disconcerting, women still have more clout in the cannabis industry, than in other American industries, where as a whole, they only fill 23 percent of executive positions. It’s also important to keep in mind that Marijuana Business Daily surveyed a total of 567 cannabis industry executives, owners, and founders — so while this isn’t a full depiction of the industry, it’s representative of a greater picture.
There are a few reasons why women may occupy fewer executive positions currently than in previous years. As the Green Rush gains momentum, more and more people are entering the industry, and it might just be that more of those people lately are men — meaning the overall percentage of female leaders will drop. According to Marijuana Business Daily, experienced executives in other industries (male executives, likely) are now being chosen to lead businesses in the cannabis industry. And moreover, the cost of getting ahead in the cannabis space might be getting too high for anyone below a certain income bracket to join. Since women have been historically paid less than men have, they might not have enough starting capital to found their own businesses, or otherwise become leaders in the industry.
As the cannabis industry matures, it’s experiencing natural bumps along the way — this being one of them. Organizations meant to boost women in the industry, such as Women Grow, have faltered lately. With half as many chapters as they had at their peak, fewer women may have access to to the necessary connections they need to get ahead in the cannabis space or found their own businesses. That said, there’s still hope. Women-led groups like Cannabis Feminist, for instance, are empowering women to rep their favorite brands in the industry, and foster opportunities for women to network at events like “bake sales” or “4:20 happy hours,” or “women’s circles.”
The data may not mean there are fewer women in the industry, but that there might be more people (and men) in the industry overall — which hence brings down the percentage. But as cannabis is more often positioned as a lifestyle or wellness product, there’s more room for women to become involved, since historically they’ve played a greater role in the wellness space, anyways.