This is the crypto industrys chance for #NotYouToo.

As the tech industry struggles with its copiously documented gender gap, women in blockchain and cryptocurrency say they are determined to prevent the crypto industry from repeating the mistakes made in other industries.

So far, it seems to us that the major players in the crypto and blockchain industry are not taking a more enlightened approach to avoid the diversity problems that have plagued the tech industry in general,according to a statement by the four co-founders of the Token Women Project, which launched in April. Not only do we want to educate women about the industry and how to get involved, but we want to elevate the voices of women who are doing cool things in the sector, especially those who are using blockchain for social impact.

Less Likely to Hold Senior Roles

Catalyst, of New York, and the Institute, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based nonprofit that advocates for women in tech, both report the tech industry overall is not attracting enough women or holding the women it does have. Women are three times less likely than technical men to be in senior roles,reports, and 56 percent of women technologists leave companies by mid-level.Catalyst finds that women comprise 12.2 percent of board members of information technology companies, compared to 17 percent of consumer brand companies and 16.9 percent of financial services companies.

Women are rare enough in the Crypto industry that their relationships enhance their power. Simply by raising their own voices and presence a bit more they can change the dynamic. 

Similar statistics have yet to be collected for the cryptocurrency and blockchain categories, but preliminary reporting by Bloomberg indicates that in one investors portfolio of 67 companies, women accounted for just 17 percent of the employees at companies that even had women; a third of the companies had only male employees.

Yet, there is a small but promising countertrend of women asserting their qualifications as company founders, conference speakers and influencers in the emerging industry. The more women entering the industry now, the more will become founders and leaders.

Now is the best opportunity for women to enter the industry,says Alice Hlidkova, founder of Through the Changing Glass, a blockchain consulting firm based in Chicago. The business case is not in debate. The issue is how to put it into action.

She tells ThirtyK the crypto industry is more open to gender equality, partly because the current generation of leaders is steeped in diversity awareness and partly because of increasing evidence that gender-diverse teams deliver better results across most industries. When women say, This is who I am,men say, Thats awesome! I had no idea,’” says Hlidkova.

Women are still so scarce that each one has a disproportionate effect on attracting other women and in product development, says Hlidkova. Women are rare enough in the industry that their relationships enhance their power,she said. Simply by raising their own voices and presence a bit more they can change the dynamic.

Looking to Boost Participation

That women were not often in speaking roles at last Januarys North American Bitcoin Conference sparked much discussion. But what happened when the conference rented a Miami strip club for a party generated enough criticism to change industry conversation to action.

Wed love to see the various blockchain and cryptocurrency gatherings and conferences commit to having 50 percent female speakers and presenters. Wed love to see more coverage in the mainstream tech news websites and magazines covering women who are building companies that leverage blockchain,says Caitlin Copple Masingill, one of the Token Womens co-founders and public relations director of Boise, Idaho-based marketing firm Oliver Russell. Its also on women to educate each other and ourselves so that we can hold each other and the industry accountable for not being left behind again.
Pivotal Roles at IBM

There have been a few signs of progress.

Women are calling out the industry, determined to prevent history from repeating itself. We need to make sure this phase of technology doesnt go the way of the internet, with everything happening in one place, one demographic deciding how this stuff gets built out and how we use it,said Emma Channing, CEO of startup consultant Satis Group, at a February gathering of women, as quoted in Wired.

Two women Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of global industries, platforms and blockchain, and Donna Dillenberger, blockchain development lead, have pivotal roles with IBMs blockchain initiatives.

The business and tech media are tracking gender equity and related issues closely, well aware of the heightened awareness generated by the #MeToo movement and gender pay equity research and advocacy. Groups, such as the online CryptoSister, are forming so women can mentor, sponsor and advocate for each other.

About 250 people attended the first Women in Blockchain conference held in late April at the University of California in Berkeley. Also in mid-April, the Global Blockchain Summit featured an all-woman panel on women in blockchain.

Advocates for metrics and accountability are rapidly emerging. If you cant measure it, you cant improve it, says Francesco Rulli, founder & CEO of Italian artificial intelligence company Querlo, which in 2013 started supporting digital education for Afghan women.There are any number of metrics that can be used to ensure a gender-inclusive culture. Each company can select and adapt them as needed. Simply put, its less about any one yardstick than the process of discernment, of making the effort to understand one’s colleagues.

Joanne Cleaver
Joanne Cleaver is a Chicago-based freelance, business and lifestyles journalist based. Her work has appeared in a number of national and regional publications. Earlier in her career, she was the deputy business editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.