The stereotype of the early Bitcoin adopter is one of a techie camped out in his mom’s basement mining Bitcoin by the hundreds, and now living the high life off the profits. In those early days there was little room or scope for women in the burgeoning technology ecosystem.
However, as the digital economy has expanded to be worth just under $400 bln doors have been opening up and it’s women who’re stepping into the breach, making successes of themselves in a market that has no preconceived gender roles or prejudices.
Four out of 30 of the largest initial coin offerings this year through October had female co-founders, and two of their ICOs were among the largest so far.
Taking the market
With the cryptocurrency market expanding rapidly and new niches and subsidiary markets opening up, there is an abundance of new jobs and it seems that women are flooding in to take up these positions.
It’s not only successful ICOs that are being headed up by women. Key speakers at a number of conferences are women and Coinbase said 46 percent of its new hires this year are women, or indeed, are ethnically diverse.
An inclusive culture
It is a positive and interesting social experiment as this new market has sprouted in less than seven years and in that time there has been this new influx of talent from a previously marginalized sector of the population.
It hints that other sectors in which women struggle to break into - such as banking and finance, the main rival to сryptocurrencies - may contain institutional prejudice.
The сryptocurrency market is also showing its disruptive nature when it comes to hiring, as this inclusive culture spreads above and beyond gender, racial and cultural differences.
There has been evidence of determined women who scrapped their way to the top of ‘old boys’ sectors, jumping ship to lead a new dawn for cryptocurrencies.
For example, Blythe Masters, the former JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker, quit her job to run Digital Asset Holdings. Another is Elizabeth Stark, who taught at Yale and Stanford universities before co-founding Lightning Labs, which is testing a technology to speed up cryptocurrency transactions.
A growing handful
Maxine Ryan, who launched Bitspark after dropping out of university and has made a success in that ICO, says there is a notable feminine influence:
“It’s still a handful, even though it’s growing,” said Ryan, about the presence of women in the Blockchain world.
Digital CUrrency Group’s director of development Meltem Demirors says women don’t always get the credit they deserve: She recalls being referred to as a “random marketing chick” earlier in her career and just last month had a man try to explain to her how crypto technology works at an event in Hong Kong where she delivered the opening remarks. She said:
“I truly believe a lot of the women are the ones who are actually doing a lot of the hard operational, strategic work.”
Kathleen Breitman, the San Francisco-based co-founder behind Tezos, says things are really on the up for women.
“I think things are much better than they were before,” said Breitman, who a year ago met with a New York hedge fund in lieu of her male co-founder and husband, only to have them remark that they were “really surprised” she was smart. Breitman concluded:
“The improvement now is due to more sophisticated actors entering the space across development and investment. There are also a lot of women who have entered the space across development and operations. Both trends have elevated the professionalism.”