We kick off a week-long series of articles looking at the problems facing women in the cryptocurrency sector. Why are they having to face the obstacles they do?
Picking through the headlines about cryptocurrency’s volatility, the bear market, and the war between decentralisation and use cases for central institutions is a story of opportunity. Technology has always had the power to revolutionise our industries, and blockchain is no different.
Why, then, are we seeing the same issues again and again as new sectors emerge?
Blockchain and cryptocurrency pitch themselves as a new era for finance, security and more, but it is the same kinds of people who have gained access to the early fruits of that era. Diversity is a huge problem for technology and business, but that does not mean that crypto needs to emulate that.
Today is the start of Crypto News Review’s Women in Crypto week, where we will discuss diversity across the industry and highlight those who are already doing incredible things. We will speak to women about the obstacles they have faced, the success they have had, and how they think things can improve.
“I think for many women, the issue boils down to a simple lack of awareness and visibility,” says Hither Mann, crypto trader and CEO of trading education firm Fortune Academy. “Cryptocurrencies, and particularly blockchain technologies, are set to become the industry standard across all sectors moving forward, and a knowledge of these topics provides fantastic opportunities to develop valuable skills, earn potentially vast sums from a small initial outlay, and to participate in what could well be the future of our financial system.”
Knowledge is power, Mann says, and if women are not aware of what they are potentially missing out on, then they cannot seize of a piece of that power for themselves.
She continues: “Due to a lack of promotion and visibility, outspoken female role models… many women are simply unaware of the opportunities on offer. Advertisements for crypto courses and programmes are rarely promoted on mainstream, female-centric media, and despite the fact that women are just as capable of becoming successful traders, we simply don’t have the culture that promotes that involvement.”
“The lack of women in the blockchain space is part of a much wider societal problem that sees women vastly underrepresented in STEM subjects at university, and consequently, in the workplace,” added Michelle Roberts, director of partners at Ensono. “Invention has to start from the ground up. School-age is where we can start to make the greatest impact on young women’s choices.”
Sophie Deen, who runs children’s media and coding company Bright Little Labs, is a firm believer that children should be given different and varied role models to emulate. She told CNR:
“Our digital divide is exacerbating social inequality both in England and globally. If we’re not doing something to make sure that everyone has access, all underrepresented groups, then we’re going to create an even wider divide. That’s a huge problem for the sort of world we’re going to be living in.”
One seductive image of the crypto market is that of young people overthrowing a system that has not been working for them and establishing a new world order in its place. However, while a recent study showed that 18 percent of young men of millennial age (ten times that of baby boomers) plan to invest in crypto over the next year, just 7 percent of women said the same.
Mann added: “Whilst we’d hope that the relative newness of the cryptosphere as a sector would attract an influx of culturally diverse opinion and talent, those who have made the transition into blockchain and crypto have largely been the same, usually male traders, who have dominated traditional finance.
“The general perception of a trader continues to be a man in a suit on a busy trading floor, and whilst the anonymity of blockchain and crypto has allowed for an increasingly diverse workforce, the invisibility of this demographic has allowed this outdated image to persist in popular culture.”
But there are reasons to be optimistic, with a report in the summer revealing that the number of women considering cryptocurrency investment more than doubled over six months, putting the figure at 13 percent.
On the results, London Block Exchange’s senior business analyst Agnes de Roeyer said at the time: “There’s still a common misconception that cryptocurrency is a game for men, but we’ve seen hundreds of women sign up for our exchange in the last few months and some of the most inspiring and knowledgeable investors, leading the way in the industry are female.”
And there are senior male figures in the industry who agree, which like it or not can only help women to succeed at the same level. When asked at a conference about how firms can encourage women into the crypto space, Coinbase UK CEO Zeeshan Feroz said: “I think there’s a real opportunity because this industry’s so young, for us to have a different balance compared to traditional finance. We as a business are very aware of that; we’re very conscious of it.”
The media also has a role to play here, with many major, systemic problems occurring because of a lack of awareness, unconscious bias and a failure to cover the amazing female leaders already making waves in the blockchain and crypto space.
Deen added: “I come across problems but I also come across people, male and female, who are motivated to do something about it. Increasingly people are aware of things, and it’s very rare for people to do something on purpose. I’m really keen not to shame people.”
There is no one solution, which makes solving the diversity problem overwhelming to some. But if we are to truly embrace the mission statement of blockchain, and change the world for the better, then more diverse voices desperately need a seat at the table.
CNR’s Women in Crypto week continues tomorrow…