Mo’ Mentors, Mo’ Women
“Dear men of crypto, I would love to see many of you sign up to be She(256) mentors,” tweeted Jill Carlson. The cryptocurrency all-rounder is a recognisable and respected figure in an industry that is still overwhelmingly male-dominated. “Many of you have been the most important mentors and influences in my career,” she continued. “It matters more than you know when you support your female colleagues.”
The program she was referring to, She(256), is a University of California, Berkeley-led initiative that “presents the opportunity for a professional and young student or early-career young adult to learn from each other serving as guides and allies”. Few would argue with the basic rationale behind its ethos. Anyone who can recall their first foray into crypto, and the fledgling mistakes they made, personally and professionally, can surely appreciate the value in such an initiative.
Cryptocurrency, and the insular and often esoteric world it’s spawned, makes perfect sense once you’re battle-hardened and embroiled in it. For newcomers, however, the industry – which is notoriously unforgiving of incompetence and ‘newb mistakes’ – can seem daunting. This is true of all entrants to the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, regardless of gender, skill set, or experience accrued in other sectors.
Breaking Barriers, Nurturing Talent
“In defining the blockchain paradigm..it is critical that those building up these far-reaching systems represent the diversity of our global population, explains She(256). “We wanted She(256) to be a movement that would have long-term impact on this burgeoning industry, by allowing more women to feel welcome in this space and by highlighting the work of women who are already making an impact in this field.”
There is nothing like this particular time, place, or industry that has ever existed in the past, which gives us the unique position to set a precedent. Blockchain is disruptive technology. So let’s disrupt the industry with more diversity.
How it Works
In practice, the (She)256 mentorship program will see mentors contacting their allotted student by phone or in person 1-3 times a month, augmented by emails and other communications. Participants are matched to their mentor or mentee for a period of one year initially, with the option to maintain contact thereafter. “For mentees, utilize your mentors and their industry expertise to ask questions, bounce off ideas, and seek direction. For mentors, provide guidance, learn from fresh perspectives, and serve as an anchor,” explains the website.
A number of well-known figures within the cryptocurrency space have thrown their weight behind (She)256, both in terms of promoting it and in volunteering to participate in it. There have been some dissenting voices, whose opposition seems to revolve around the belief that cryptocurrency doesn’t need diversity quotas; decentralized systems, by their nature, do not care for gender, identity, or any other characteristic that exerts sway in other spheres – they care only for the veracity delivered by cryptographic protocols, and the competency of the engineers who developed them.
Even without focusing on its appeal to “young female-identifying individuals” however, She(256)’s mentorship program is sure to help emerging talents find their feet and add value to the burgeoning cryptoconomy. And that can only be a good thing.