Narrowing the Blockchain Gender Gap
Big surprise, women are underrepresented among blockchain startups. Itís a trend thatís pervasive throughout technology and Silicon Valley in particular. But blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies, has the potential to be better, considering its mission is one tied to decentralization and a level playing field for all.
In some ways, however, women†have struggled to compete in a male-dominated culture whose fortress is reportedly†protected by cliques like the ďblockchain bros,Ē according to a recent New York Times article.†The trend does not appear to be limited to startups, as evidenced by research suggesting women only represent between 4% and 6% of blockchain investors.
While itís still early innings for blockchain, that makes this gender imbalance that much more concerning, as itís during the early days of an emerging market that new wealth is created and influencers born, setting in motion of chain of events ranging from investments to hiring behavior.
The Times article pointed to a Tweet by venture capitalist Alexia Bonatsos, saying Ė
Women, consider crypto. Otherwise the men are going to get all the wealth, again.— Alexia Bonatsos (@alexia) January 25, 2018
On Wall Street, the gender gap recently came to the forefront with a bronze sculpture sponsored by asset management firm State Street in lower Manhattan, entitled ďFearless Girl.Ē Meanwhile, in corporate America, big investors are putting more pressure on boards of directors for environmental, social and governance criteria, including gender equality.
So whatís keeping more women from diving into blockchain? Some suggest itís an inferiority complex, driven by the notion that you need a Ph.D. to succeed in the space, a misconception that one female crypto investor attempted to quash in the Times story. But it doesnít help when blockchain engineers are mistaken for models or whose qualifications are questioned, which has happened to women, including engineering students, pursuing careers in cryptocurrencies.
And while women may feel excluded at some blockchain or cryptocurrency events, such as a recent bitcoin conference that held its networking session at a Miami strip club, itís not everywhere.
Market leaders have been tailoring conferences and events to draw more women to the blockchain space. Itís working, as evidenced by sold-out events that are also attracting thousands to a live stream.
Indeed, there are also green shoots of gender diversity unfolding on the blockchain, suggesting it may depend on where you look. In an interview with Bloomberg, Digital Currency Groupís Meltem Demirors described an industry in which the sands are beginning to shift.
For instance, she says the number of female†founders†among blockchain†startups is on the rise as well as the number of female investors across crypto vehicles such as hedge funds and venture capital.†Demirors admits, however, that ďthereís still some work that needs to be done in the ecosystem.Ē
In the United States, men as of January still comprised nearly three-quarters of all bitcoin users, according to data cited in Bloomberg.
Featured image from Shutterstock.