This is the crypto industry’s 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 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
, of New York, and the AnitaB.org Institute, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based nonprofit that advocates for women in tech, both report the tech industry overall is enough women or holding the women it does have. Women are “three times less likely than technical men to be in senior roles,” reports AnitaB.org, and “56 percent of women technologists leave companies by mid-level.” Catalyst finds that women 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 indicates that in one investor’s 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, founder of Through the Changing Glass, a blockchain consulting firm based in Chicago. “The 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 across most industries. “When women say, ‘This is who I am,’ men say, ‘That’s 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 sparked much discussion. But what happened when the conference rented a Miami for a party generated enough criticism to change industry conversation to action.
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 doesn’t 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 , at a February gathering of women, as quoted in .
Two women – Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of global industries, platforms and blockchain, and Donna Dillenberger, blockchain development lead, have pivotal roles with ’s blockchain initiatives.
The and tech media are 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 , are forming so women can mentor, sponsor and advocate for each other.
About 250 people attended the first conference held in late April at the University of California in Berkeley. Also in mid-April, the featured an all-woman panel on women in blockchain.
Advocates for metrics and accountability are rapidly emerging. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it, “ says Francesco Rulli, founder & CEO of Italian artificial intelligence company , 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, it’s less about any one yardstick than the process of discernment, of making the effort to understand one’s colleagues.”