“Females Only” Budtender Jobs and the Cannabis Industry Gender Gap
The old sexualization paradigm persists.
Published on September 23, 2016

The prevalent spread of cannabis-based business throughout the country has created budding opportunities for the average person to start and grow a career working with weed. Some canna-businesses in Southern California, however, enact a strict gender gap when it comes to budtender positions.

Craigslist in Southern California listed 74 total postings for medical dispensary budtenders in the month of June. Of those, 15 were “female only.” The ads required each applicant to submit photos and/or links to social media, in addition to résumé and medical recommendation.

The mantra of “sex sells” is a mainstay in modern advertising and the cannabis market is no different, with the presence of groups such as the Dank Dabber Girls and 420 Nurses.

Image via 420 Nurses

Most dispensaries did not respond to requests to learn the reason behind their “female only” positions. One offered me a job based on my qualifications.

One avoided the question from a female friend of mine and kept pushing her to send photos. Transparency within the world of legal weed is going to separate the professionals from the amateurs as each state becomes legal.

Shawn DeNae, owner of Washington Bud Company in Seattle, Wash., is a member of Women of Weed, a private social group of women in the cannabis business as well as the founding member of the Cannabis Women’s Alliance. The role of the Cannabis Women’s Alliance is to encourage women to go into business for themselves and provide mentorship on their journey.

She says the “females only” jobs should be avoided.

“You don’t know what the subtlety is behind that,” she explains. “Go to work for a female-owned business. They are just different. Not that it’s bad or better, good or not good. It’s just a different culture.”

Could women simply be better at customer service in a business world filled with non-stop battles of the sexes? Nancy Friedman, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and communication expert, says sex has nothing to do with customer service.

“It’s a matter of who has had the correct and most effective customer service training, who wants more training, who wants to get up in the morning and help people,” she says. “For years I have been saying customer service is not a department. It’s a mentality, a culture, a feeling, a way of living, of doing, of believing.”

MedMen Image via Terrell Young / MERRY JANE

Whether or not women are more empathetic, nurturing, caring, or have more drive when it comes to business dealings, DeNae sees a paradigm shift in the way businesses are operated with more and more women at the helm.

“The fact is men and women are different. Men do business differently than women do business,” says DeNae. “The women from my state (Washington) are much more conscientious. It’s less about dog eat dog and climbing the ladder than it is about creating something sustainable for future generations. Sex plays a role in all of that.”

There will be jobs that require women to display their sexuality. Although DeNae does not encourage that behavior within her own organization, she understands there are women who are more than happy to show their bodies off for the sake of a sale.

“A lot of young women want to display their sexuality,” says DeNae. “If part of your job is to involve yourself in a wet T-shirt contest, that’s not OK. If [women] have bills to pay and they’ll lose their job unless they wear a tight T-shirt and roll around on roller skates, then that’s not cool.”

For women, this means exhausting all of the resources available and never selling themselves short of greatness, because “female only” is not an opportunity but a limitation.

Blake Taylor
Blake Taylor worked for a leading medical/recreational marijuana grower in the Seattle area and has been a freelance writer for four years.
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