New “Living History” Study Explores How, Exactly, Women Are Faring in the Cannabis Industry

By Melissa Hutsell

 

Are women succeeding in the cannabis industry? A new study launched today, Dec. 10th, at the Women in Cannabis Conference in Las Vegas, aims to answer just that.

Leading the Women in Cannabis: A Living History study is Jennifer Whetzel, founder of Ladyjane Branding. She is conducting the study in partnership Wolfe Research and Consulting. 

Whetzel is calling for women of all ages and stages of their careers, and in any part of the industry—plant-touching businesses, ancillary industries, etc.—to complete a questionnaire. The survey consists of approximately 80 close-ended questions. 

The Goal of the Research:

This is a chance for women to tell their stories, Whetzel explains. 

Her goal is to find insight into the lives of women, both professionally and personally. 

“We’re not just looking at the experiences they’re having at work during the day. But [also], how working in the industry is affecting their life as a whole,” she tells the Emerald

The survey aims to find answers to questions like: why are women getting involved in the cannabis industry? Why are they leaving?

Participants are also invited for phone interviews, which they can sign up for at the end of the survey.

To capture women’s stories, Wendy Borman, creator of Mary Janes: Women of Weed, will conduct video interviews. 

Actionable, Ongoing Data:

Whetzel (and the study’s media partners) will release video interviews throughout the year, one topic at a time.

Data from the survey will also be released on an ongoing basis. Whetzel also plans to release monthly infographics, and in-depth quarterly reports. 

Each will have a theme, says Whetzel, such as, “why women choose to move into the space professionally.”

Whetzel’s own motivation to conduct the study came after reading about the plight of women in the cannabis industry. 

When searching for the source of such data, she found it was not comprehensive—nor did it show what the industry really looks like for women.

“We don’t know what the baseline is,” she says. 

Armed with an extensive research and storytelling background, Whetzel set out to find that data. 

Doing so will help create an inclusive industry now at the start, rather than needing to fix it later. We can, “plot the course, and course correct if we need to,” she adds. 

However, it was Kyra Reed, founder of Kadin Academy, that inspired Whetzel while she designed the study. Reed encourages female entrepreneurs to redefine how women work via the industry. 

“We don’t need to put in place policies and procedures other industries use,” Whetzel explains. “We can create something different; create businesses that are more supportive of females from the ground up.”

“My goal is to provide the data and inspiration [needed] to make a better, more inclusive industry so that we all feel welcome,” she says.

Early Results:

Beta testing began on Nov. 18th. Whetzel has so far surveyed nearly 100 women, and hopes to bring that number closer to 1,000 by the end of 2019.

She shares some early results, which are based on a small sample size and by no means representative:

  • The top reasons women get into the industry: To apply their already existing skills sets to cannabis, and for wellness reasons. 
  • 53% of women experience bullying, or a lack of support from other women in the industry 
  • 55% of respondents felt a need to hide the fact they work in the industry
  • 70% of women feel shamed—extended family is the number one culprit is
  • 58% of respondents feel they are not treated equitably 
  • 60% of women feel they are taken less seriously because they are a woman

More than half of women report experiencing bullying, a lack of support—or both, from other women in the industry. Additionally, findings also suggest that more than half of women go to work everyday without feeling supported. 

“That’s something we need to fix,” says Whetzel. 

Looking to the future, she hopes to conduct the survey annually, or every two years.

“This is just going to be the first part of the research,” she adds. “Maybe next year, we’ll do a male ally-ship survey.”

 

To take the survey—visit WomenInCannabis.study

 

Emerald contributor since February 2016

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