Women growers

Women Grow Sonoma County Chapter founder Ilana Sochaczewski posts a flier for an upcoming event, on the message board in Coffee Catz, in Sebastopol, on Thursday, July 2, 2015. The organization works to support and educate women to become entrepreneurs and leaders in the cannabis industry.


While most billion-dollar enterprises – from Silicon Valley to Wall Street – are dominated by men, there’s one growing field where more women hold higher positions than women in other industries: legal marijuana.

Women hold 36 percent of leadership positions in the industry, according to a report by Marijuana Business Daily published last week. In some sectors, such as processing and infused product manufacturing, nearly half of executive positions are held by women, while sectors such as wholesale growing and investment have fewer women than in any part of the industry, but are still above the average for U.S. businesses.

The difference in the number of male executives and female executives is staggering. Though half of the workforce is comprised of women, only a fifth of the seats in Congress belong to women, only 5 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

Legal marijuana still doesn’t show equality, since a majority of the executive positions in the industry are held by men, and only certain sectors such as testing have more women than men in decision-making positions. However, the industry shows more equity for women.

(RELATED: In July, Julie Johnson wrote about the establishment of a Santa Rosa chapter of Women Grow. The group’s first meeting drew about 50 women, mostly from Sonoma County.)

Newer industries, such as technology and social media, show that women are better represented, in executive or leadership positions, according to a University of Denver study. For example, Google is leading efforts in their industry to attract and retain more women in the company by training employees in diversity, “nudging” women to nominate themselves for promotions (at Google, software engineers nominate themselves for promotions), and by extending maternity and family leave.

Legal marijuana shows a growing trend of attracting more and more women to the industry. Several business collaborative exclusive to women have grown exponentially in the past years. Women Grow started in the summer of 2014 with just 70 people – now the networking group hosts over 1,000 women in its meetings nationwide.

These few examples of women’s industry leadership are scarce, however, legal marijuana shows promise to be the first multi-billion dollar industry dominated by women.