As the blockchain industry continues to grow and create more opportunities for all, there’s real potential for this technological vanguard to level the playing field.
In this fast-moving space, this is the perfect time to break down gender equality barriers, allowing female leaders and innovators to truly shine.
For years, women have eclipsed men in terms of academia, acquiring more doctoral degrees than their male counterparts. Of course, in the professional environment, the wage gap doesn’t reflect this reality, though the positive statistics show that women are increasingly becoming the financial providers in their families. Recent studies indicate that, in roughly a third of American households, women bring in half the earnings or more.
Unfortunately, tech is still a largely male-dominated industry. In 2017, it was found that women were just as ambitious as men,
and that it was not factors like motherhood or family status that impacted this drive. Rather, the companies they worked for were restricting women’s professional development.
Some outliers have gone on to attain formidable positions – Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, IBM’s Ginni Romety and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg for example – the odds still appear stacked against women. Only 11 per cent hold an executive position in Silicon Valley, and fewer than five per cent own startups. Even in some of the foremost companies, like Google and Apple, only an estimated 31 per cent of employees are female.
Breaking the Chain
Right now, regrettably, this pattern persists in cryptocurrency and blockchain. Some have characterised these spaces as ‘boy’s clubs’, occupied predominantly by white men.
Prima facie, this characterisation certainly holds some weight: most of the industry’s CEOs, conference-goers and investors are men. 71 per cent of Bitcoin holders are men.
Some theorise that this is due to the fact that most of the existing tech industry has simply migrated to the new space. Given the lack of women in the former, it stands to reason that new blockchain startups would have difficulty achieving an equal balance in their new companies.
But it would be shamefully defeatist just to sit back and allow the industry to ossify – and an insult to the women who have worked tirelessly for greater representation in tech. It would also be a complete antithesis of what the tech was initially designed to combat. Let’s not forget, after all, that Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer back in the 19th century. It seems fitting, given blockchain technology’s roots in cryptography, that these early days of our industry should also mark the end of a long history of systemic imbalance. I, for one, am optimistic that we’re headed in the right direction.
Already, there are a number of prominent female leaders running some of the most promising projects in blockchain: Elizabeth Stark (Lightning Labs), Meltem Demirors (Coinshares) and Elizabeth Rossiello (BitPesa) are just a few. In my own experience, I’ve noticed a number of positive catalysts that reflect an active drive to ensure more women are getting involved with coding and the wider blockchain industry. We’re seeing organisations hosting meetups, conferences, hackathons and presentations to these ends, as well as coding camps and panels that empower women, and more.
Participation requires only an internet connection, a desire to learn and a drive to deploy the tech towards a common goal – inclusion. The power of gatekeepers that pervades the tech industry is not nearly as pronounced in this new iteration.
We’re on the right track. Lack of female participation in this domain has nothing to do with an absence of talent – the earlier statistics on academic and professional achievements prove that. Persistence is key – it’s more important than ever that we continue to fund and promote initiatives to teach, empower and inspire the future female leaders in this burgeoning space.
About the author
Seema Khinda Johnson is the Co-Founder and COO of Nuggets.
Nuggets is an e-commerce payments and ID platform. It stores your personal and payment data securely in the blockchain, so you never have to share it with anyone – not even Nuggets.