There were times when I worked in our London St store, that I truly thought I might just get done for assault that day. For example:
“Ok love, how about you let the bloke in the back help me?”
“Yeah, yeah… Sure, hey mate! Can you help me here?”
Stares through me to my male colleague.
“Are you sure? Is your manager here? I would like a second opinion.”
Female manager comes to help, “Oh, do you have… another manager?”
“How about to make the boys a coffee while they sort this out for you?”
Now, I’m over exaggerating. About the assault, not the comments, and these were the nicer of the comments. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of customers who couldn’t care less about my gender, but there is definitely a stigma in our society that women are less capable of holding their own within a technological or mechanical world than men are.
There are many misconceptions about women in the worldwide vaping community, including:
- Females prefer pink, sparkly, or aesthetically feminine vaping products.
- Females lack the knowledge or enthusiasm to understand the scientific/technical aspects of vaping.
- Females can’t build coils.
Females can’t participate in the same cloud competitions as men because they won’t stack up.
The points that I have made above may be true for some female vapers. The points I made above may also be true for our male counterparts. As a woman who has been heavily immersed in New Zealand’s vaping subculture and community, I call bullshit. I call bullshit for every woman who stands up with the boys and hucks some clouds. I call bullshit for every female vape retail staff member. I call bullshit for every woman out there with a drill building coils. But most of all I call bullshit for every woman who has been deterred from vaping because of this prejudice.
The vaping industry as a whole has done little to debunk these stereotypes. Talking to any of our retail staff or even just basing it off my own knowledge from working behind the counter, males and females are almost equally represented in our customer base. I can see this when I check on our online orders in the morning. I see this when I pull statistics from our mailing lists, and I see this when I visit any of our stores, but it is unlikely to stay that way. The uber-masculine image that vaping marketers are presenting to the general populace will soon become a self-fulfilling prophecy that could prevent vaping from becoming a “mainstream” alternative to smoking. That is, IF as a community and an industry we don’t work to overcome this stigma.
So what do we do? As a community, how do we work together to level the playing field?
I have said this in almost every blog post I have written recently, but I am no expert. I am not telling you what you should be doing. But this is what I, personally, want to see from our vaping community for the foreseeable future. Acknowledgement. That’s it.
Acknowledge that this is an ongoing issue for many women working, or even just participating in the vape industry, because only with that acknowledgement will there come change.
I am proud to say that I work for a company that has never restricted or judged me because of my gender. In the years that I have worked for Vapourium NZ they have supported me in sickness and in health. They have sponsored me to build coils, sent me all over the country to represent our brand, and have always had my back when I have been belittled, ignored or even aggressively hit on by customers who think they can get away with it because I am a woman in a “man’s industry”.
I’m not going to spend all afternoon detailing the ins and outs of feminism, or the lack there of in any industry, but I am going to ask you this: Do you want to see a future where vaping is a viable option for everyone?