The gender gap in the blockchain world has been a hot topic for some time now. The vast majority of investors and startup teams in blockchain are comprised predominantly of men, women representing only 3 to 4 % of the blockchain world. Some of the reasons for the gender gap have been chalked up to women generally being more averse to risk and an atmosphere of exclusion among the “blockchain bro” culture that dominates the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. However, the trend is shifting: with more and more events devoted to the inclusion of women in blockchain, and with support from fellow female investors, the increasing involvement of women in blockchain is undeniable. One such event, Cryptofriends’ Crypto Summit, was held alongside Austin’s SXSW festival recently. The entire first day of the summit was presented under the name “New Girls on the Block”, and featured panels and speeches led solely by women in blockchain.
The summit attracted more than twenty-five females speakers, including but not limited to, Emmie Chang, Adryenn Ashley, Evgenia Ovcharenko, Salome Paruvala, and Lori Corpuz. The speakers discussed a broad range of topics, from regulation and governance to investment strategy, ICO marketing tips and the use of blockchain technology for social good. “There’s been a lot said about ‘bro culture’ in blockchain and the tone of some events has set a poor example,” comments CryptoFriends CEO Daria Ariefeva. “But our Crypto Summit attracted a huge amount of high caliber male and female attendees from the industry, which proves that if you give women a platform, people want to hear from them. We’re so proud to have created this opportunity for talented men and women in the sector to build smart connections and we hope other conference organizers will join us in giving diversity a chance.”
A diverse scope of viewpoints towards gender diversity in blockchain was shown at the event, but the most eminent takeaway was that blockchain is no longer a world where only men run the show. “…The old boys club is not only an outdated concept, it’s proving to be bad for business. Reports suggest that gender-diverse companies outperform their peers by 15%, and the most ethnically diverse enterprises outperform their peers by 35%. There is a wind of change in the air that is championing the value of many voices and diversity of opinion in business. These are exciting times to promote a new way of thinking and working,” says Jessica Versteeg, CEO of Paragon Coin. Cecile Baird, co-founder of Decentrl.agency & Blockchain for good, adds, “I think we, both men and women, are now all more conscious that gender discrimination against women does exist. From talking to other women about this, I see we have become more aware of those small nuances here and there, and as a result women are stepping up, speaking out, standing up more for ourselves. And men of course have become more aware of this issue, and we’re all making more of an effort to work together and support each other.” Support from other women in the blockchain community was a universal idea among women in blockchain, and we can expect that women will begin to take more part in blockchain.
In the opinions of the speakers, blockchain is an unconquered frontier where the spoils are given to the brave. However, there is still room for growth due to the infancy of the industry. Although many are scared away from blockchain due to its fickle nature, its newness allows a real opportunity for growth. Anu Bhardwaj, founder of Women Investing in Women Digital, the State of Women radio and TV network and the Qrypto Queens community, shares the following insight: “I think [there’s] an opportunity for [women] to get in and they are being sought after, quite frankly. Becoming an influencer in blockchain or crypto, they are looking for female voices. So, if they have a fundamental, baseline knowledge, they can run with this and really make a name for themselves in whatever way they want, as it’s so cowgirl right now.” This isn’t the first time blockchain has been compared to the Wild West, and evidently, the rewards are ripe for the taking.
While New Girls on the Block featured only female speakers, it was attended and commended by both sexes. “Blockchain and crypto was a popular topic at SXSW, just like at Davos. The New Girls On The Blockchain conference was well attended, and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many males in the audience listening to the all women panels,” Cecile Baird shares. Additionally, audience engagement was high. Evgenia Ovcharenko, co-founder at Hapax, says, “The participants were really good. They gave interesting comments and asked difficult questions. I liked the quality of the audience, because I felt that they were involved in the crypto industry and really knew what they were talking about.” Emmie Chang, founder of Superbloom, elaborates: “Crypto and Blockchain took over sxsw this year — there were many people who went just to learn and listen about it.” Clearly, blockchain is drawing in more and more enthusiasts, which portends positive news about the gender gap adjustment in the future.
In conclusion, although blockchain has been largely dominated by men in the past, new effort from female leaders is allowing the “blockchain bros” to make way for the “crypto queens.” Cryptofriends’ summit accumulated some of the brightest stars in blockchain and shone a light on their achievements and important contribution to this developing commercial sphere. To fully obliterate the glass ceiling, it is imperative for women in blockchain to support one another and themselves. Despite the fact that the universe of blockchain is, as of now, immeasurable and incomprehensible, we can evidently expect that women will continue to support each other and burst boldly into the blockchain frontier.
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