Cryptocurrency is meant to be a democratizing force in the world. Just think about the unbanked people of the world who can now get access to bitcoin. This technology was born out of a utopian idea of money that is not regulated by the few but is in the hands of a global community. It is reshaping the face of money. This utopia would be incomplete without the inclusion of women. Half of the world population are women, half of the people using fiat money are women. Therefore, half of the people using bitcoin should be women.
However, Google Analytics data as displayed on coin.dance, shows a significant gap between the utopian of gender balance within crypto and reality. Right now, crypto is looking a lot like the rest of the tech sector with a whopping 94.73% percent of people engaged in bitcoin being male. What are the reasons for this?
Women are More Risk Averse?
Some say that women are more risk averse than men, at least when it comes to financial risk taking. It is also true that less than ten percent of computer science undergrads are women. Boys get introduced to gadgets at an earlier age, and this could explain why more men are using bitcoin. But as it stands the question of why the tech sector and cryptocurrency in particular are male dominated is a question ripe for further research.
An Insight into Women in Bitcoin
The New York Times published an article highlighting the kind of sexism that women encounter in the cryptocurrency space. Their article mentions how cryptocurrency conference after parties are held at strip clubs, and points at an advert of DateCoin ICO featuring a scantily clad woman and a sign that read “Touch my ICO.” After reading a few blog posts about the issue it was clear that sexism is present at different bitcoin conferences. There are small assumptions at these conferences that reinforce the feedback loop, such as assuming that the women there are someone’s (generally a male participant) plus one.
Changing the Status Quo
Understanding the gaps in the space, a few organizations have launched initiatives to bring more women into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency projects. The Collective Future is one of them. This organization is fostering global diversity in blockchain and crypto-assets. They have a pledge to make blockchain more inclusive for women and other groups.
Hopefully as crypto and blockchain hit the mainstream the gender divide will become less pronounced and more women will start using Bitcoin. But it is important to raise awareness of the gender inequality in the space now, as the early players in the technology are the likeliest to make big sums of money and they are the people spearheading innovation. If the space doesn’t act now, it will become a tool that perpetuates gender inequality within the new economy.
Women in Bitcoin Who Are Thriving
This doesn’t mean that women themselves should wait to be included. They should make the effort to break those glass ceilings, and many women are. There are some noteworthy candidates that other women seeking to join the Bitcoin, blockchain or cryptocurrency space, should look up to. Here are some salient examples:
Laura Shin hosts a podcast about crypto called Unchained. Her knowledge about the space is great and she is a leading journalist in the space, writing for Forbes about cryptocurrency as well.
Neha Narula is an engineer who is the director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. She also gave a TED talk about crypto and the future of money.
Tess Rinearson is a software engineer at Chain, the creators of the Sequence service. She created an explanation of bitcoin and cryptography using emoji, which is a very useful source for those who want to learn how Bitcoin works.
Perianne Boring is the founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.