To assume that the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry is male-dominated would be a fair assumption to make. This is evident by the fact that some studies estimate that women make up between four to six percent of blockchain investors. However, to assume that women aren’t pioneering cutting-edge technology in the space would be a false assertion to believe in. So much so, that for some the future of the cryptocurrency industry is female.
As Bitcoindicate celebrates International Women’s Day, this year’s theme #pressforprogress calls for the change needed in gender equality around the world. One change that is also being called for is to see more women in technology, specifically the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. For some, there is plenty more that needs to be done to increase women’s voices in this nascent space.
According to Jane Zhang, marketing partner at Delphy, a blockchain-powered predictive market, the world of cryptocurrencies trails behind in diversity with an underlying tone of a ‘gentlemen’s club’ culture. Even though strides are being made with gender equality in the wider technology industry, Zhang questions why cryptocurrency events are being held at gentlemen’s clubs, a possible reference to the North American Bitcoin Conference that was held at a Miami strip club earlier this year.
“Why are there so many stories from women who have attended cryptocurrency events only to be subjected to sexist and condescending remarks?” she added. “An innovative and exciting new world is stuck in the dark ages.”
Rhian Lewis, co-developer of CountMyCrypto, an altcoin portfolio tracker, and co-host of London Women in Bitcoin, doesn’t agree that the industry is stuck in a gentlemen’s club era. As a software engineer, Lewis has always been interested in economics, but it wasn’t until 2013 that she bought her first cryptocurrency and started trading. Since launching CountMyCrypto in 2014 with a friend she has been immersed in the industry, speaking and writing regularly about the blockchain.
Speaking to Bitcoindicate, Lewis explained that it was when she was in Berlin that she attended an event a friend was running called Berlin Bitcoin Mädchenabend (Girls Night Out), providing a social yet educational setting for women who were interested in learning more about the industry. However, it was only when Lewis returned to London that she realised that there wasn’t anything similar setup, which eventually saw Lewis and friend Magda creating London Women in Bitcoin. Now events are co-hosted with Neha Murarka, CEO of Smoogs, a micropayment solution platform that lets people pay in cryptocurrency while they stream content.
Lewis said that when they initially started only a handful a people turned up, but since then numbers have increased.
“Since 2017, and particularly since Neha used her amazing energy to move the event to SkillsMatter and arrange proper talks and presentations, our attendance has rocketed and we are now sponsored by eToro,” she said. “We are an outreach group, not an exclusive gathering aimed at separating women from men, so we also welcome men along to the meetups. But we ask them to bring a girlfriend, wife, sister, mum, best female friend if possible.”
Even though the number of females involved in the crypto market may be lower than their male counterparts, female interest in the industry is growing. This is evident by the number of female members in bitcoin meetups around the world. The London Women in Bitcoin group boasts 485 members while the Women in Bitcoin meetup in San Francisco has 429 members. With a significant number attending events this makes for an encouraging future where women play a more central role in technology.
The wise adage, you can’t be what you can’t see, or three small words: not for me, can be powerful deterrents that can aptly be applied to the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.
Yet, it is thanks to the likes of the aforementioned women along with Catheryne Nicholson at BlockCypher, Elizabeth Stark at Lightning, Jutta Steiner at Parity, Friedrike Ernst at Gnosis, Taylor Monahan at MyEtherWallet, Quynh Tran at CryptoCompare and many others that women are realising that this compelling technology is for everyone. And it’s because of this that women are collectively helping to shape the future of cryptocurrencies.
As Anita Schjøll Brede, CEO of Iris.ai, an artificial intelligence platform that helps a person find the science they need, says: ‘the state and availability of technology today is so exciting.’
At the end of the day, it’s not a case of us against them, but a cause for celebration at what women are doing in the crypto space right now and what they’ll continue to do in the future. Not only that but by identifying with and aspiring to be like the women we see making a change with today’s technological advancements we can hope for a better future where women aren’t left behind.
“All types of individuals have to empower themselves by educating themselves about these technologies,” said Lewis. “If they see other women having a presence, they are less likely to feel intimidated.”