From the Courtroom to the Vape Shop: Men Rule Both
When I was in law school, I remember being surprised that there were as many females as males in my first year section. I was naively happy, thinking that women had reached full equality in the legal field in the year 1998 (insert eyeroll here.) After fourteen years in private practice, I see how it works, and it is pretty demoralizing. Think of it like a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is law school, and it is a roughly even split (47% female in 2014). As you go up the pyramid, it becomes the traditional “sword fight”, with just a few A-type, single, or childless females peppered throughout. By the time you reach the top levels of management, women with families are like unicorns; it is mostly middle-aged and older (*ahem* white) men at the top.
The Legal Industry Remains Male Dominated at the Top
The American Bar Association study linked to in the previous paragraph shows that as of 2014, women lawyers make up only 17% of equity partners in law firms, and only 4% of the managing partners of the top 200 law firms. I’m no math whiz, but that means only eight women are among 192 men running the top 200 law firms in the country. I also see how it happens; women start to drop out of private practice as they have children, and especially as their children begin to grow up. It happened to me; as my own spawn started aging, my job as a litigator with a national practice became more difficult, and then impossible, to balance. So, in January of 2015, I left the private practice of law to join this emerging, disruptive industry; the vape industry! I opened my online store, started blogging about the intersection of vape and law and public policy, and was on my way!
And Then I Walked Into….Another Room Full of Men!
Geez, do you guys need to take over everything?!? Seriously, this industry is not even a decade old yet in the U.S., but the vaping “subculture” is pretty clearly defined. Men Rule. The e-liquids have names like Mother’s Milk, Unicorn Piss, and Twizzle my Nizzle; flavors that 17 year old male virgins want to buy before going home to play Halo 5 for 36 hours straight. I’m a 43 year old mother who is NOT ordering Heaven’s Lube or Orgasm from my local vape shop. And I’m not alone; there are a lot of women who vape, but do not want products that are clearly intended for males. It makes no sense why so many brands continue to advertise this way, when the studies show that women are more likely to quit smoking for e-cigarettes than men are. A lot of the vape advertisements on Instagram are a couple of pasties away from vape porn; the advertising does not reflect the demographic reality. Seriously; go to google images and type in vape models; it is very definitely NSFW.
What Does This Mean?
It means that right now, there is a substantial disconnect between the industry and a majority of the customers/potential customers. This makes no sense, and if someone wanders into the wrong vape shop or website when they decide to order their first e-cigarette and e-juice, she might be turned off by the advertising and the names, and decide against it. That, of course, would be bad news.
Since the vaping industry continues to grow and boom, however, it continues to attract new members, and as time goes on, more diversity is added to the culture, and different sub-cultures within the larger culture are already forming. I already see a shift towards more e-juice and hardware companies focusing on the health and financial benefits of vaping, as more and more research studies come back illustrating the significant health advantages vaping has over smoking (specifically, that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking.)
Luckily, a vape shop, especially an on-line vape shop, is not the same as a court room or a boardroom, and the evolution of this embryonic industry is continuing rapidly. There are many industry newcomers (myself included) who will continue to work to broaden the vape and e-liquid industry to be inclusive to ALL those who wish to quit smoking through vaping. I will check back in a year from now and review the state of gender demographics in the vape industry. Until then, Keep Calm and Vape On.
Julie Selesnick is the president of The Happy Vapor Company, , and a contributing columnist for Spinfuel eMagazine. You can expect to see much more from Julie in Spinfuel eMagazine
Editor’s Note* – Julie is exactly right about women in the vape community, and the ‘men rule’ idiom is valid. This has never been lost on our publisher which is why we often hire women writers and reviewers. Dori Odosso, Julie and Kiera Hartley-Barnes, and guest contributors like Renee, Sheerlie, Tash, and now Julie. And there have been many others over the past 4 years. We track our readership demographics and the image below was taken just a few minutes ago from our Alexa account. As you can see, although more males visit Spinfuel than females, our readership is better balanced than any of the dozen top vape sites we track daily. We are very proud of our ability to draw in the female vaper, and we continue to work toward an even better balanced ratio of men and women.