The tech industry is notorious for its male-dominated culture, and unfortunately, the blockchain space may still be exhibiting this, at least for the time being.
Although female cryptocurrency investors are on the rise, men still make up the majority of job positions within the blockchain sector. This could be due to a number of reasons, such as a lack of funding for female-led blockchain companies or the ever-present gender wage gap in tech. According to recent data collected by AI-driven marketplace Hired, female candidates for tech jobs received wages that were 3% lower than their male counterparts.
While discouraging, women leaders in the blockchain space are taking action to ensure equality by allowing females to have their voices heard at industry events.
A blockchain event for women
Specifically speaking, events run by women for women are becoming a popular concept within the blockchain sector. Most recently Oasis Labs – a privacy-enabled blockchain platform -- hosted a virtual “Blockchain Leaders Mentorship” event with two panels featuring impressive women in blockchain. Both panels were moderated by Kristina Lucrezia Cornèr, acting editor-in-chief at Cointelegraph.
Panelists came together to discuss their involvement in blockchain, resources for learning about the sector, and ways to drive female participation moving forward. Anne Fauvre-Willis, chief operating officer of Oasis Labs told Cointelegraph that the goal of the event was to help other women, while serving as a resource for those looking to get involved in blockchain:
“We think these events will definitely help drive women to get more involved in the space and seek out opportunities to help them advance. Being able to hear other successful women in the industry discuss how they got involved in this ‘unusual’ space shows younger women who want to learn more or get involved how to do so.”
According to Fauvre-Willis, the Blockchain Leaders Mentorship event was specifically targeted at women looking to break into the blockchain and crypto space, along with those looking to transition from trade finance to fintech.
Fauvre-Willis further mentioned that more high-caliber talent is required in order for the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector to advance. As such, she believes that an event for women hosted by women can help make this path more accessible while giving panelists the chance to network with one another.
In addition, recent research from blockchain consulting firm BDC Consulting found that it’s necessary for women to speak at crypto conferences in order to attract female participation in the space.
Inspiring insights shared from female leaders
While it’s important to recognize the necessity of including women speakers at blockchain events, a number of inspiring insights were shared during Oasis Foundation’s Blockchain Leaders Mentorship panel.
For example, Bridget Greenwood, founder of The Bigger Pie — an organization focusing on supporting women in blockchain and emerging tech — mentioned during the second panel that she joined the blockchain space due to financial inclusion. “There was a financial crisis in 2008 where trusted, centralized systems failed many people,” said Greenwood. Although financial inclusion prompted Greenwood to get involved with Bitcoin (BTC), she also noted that there weren’t many other women doing the same, which she found discouraging:
“There are some really amazing women in the space, and I want to continue to help the next group of people come in. I can see that we will have another generational transfer of wealth, and I don’t want any generation left out. I see my role as making sure these amazing women are seen and supported.”
While financial inclusion has proven to be a driving factor for getting involved with blockchain, it’s interesting to note that some of the panelists joined the space for other reasons. For example, Nadia Hewett, project lead for blockchain and digital currency at the World Economic Forum, explained during the second session that she entered the blockchain sector due to her background in supply chain management:
“I entered the blockchain space as part of the digitization wave that we’ve been seeing over the past years, where companies look at emerging technology and digitization to solve social and business problems. When I started reading about blockchain, I couldn’t stop because I understood how it could solve supply chain challenges.”
Hewett mentioned that she eventually began to work with the blockchain team at the shipping giant Maersk to develop the TradeLens blockchain platform. “Blockchain is just one tool to enable new commercial and business models that couldn’t be done previously,” she said. Since then, Hewett explained that she has been working on a number of projects with the World Economic Forum specifically focusing on data sharing and privacy protocols.
In addition to discussing how each panelist became involved in the blockchain sector, many of the women shared advice for newcomers looking to enter the space.
Vanessa Grellet, head of portfolio growth at CoinFund — a crypto asset-focused investment firm — mentioned during the first panel that the “openness” of information within the crypto space is key for allowing both men and women to contribute information to the sector. Grellet also remarked that many Telegram and other social media groups allow individuals to connect directly with others in the industry, which creates an encouraging atmosphere for those looking to get involved.
Panelist Layne Lafrance, co-founder of CryptoKitties and flow product lead at Dapper Labs, further mentioned that female newcomers must also gain a sense of comfort when it comes to discomfort. “Being comfortable with not knowing is important. If you are joining this panel today as a participant, you probably know more than you think,” she remarked.
Inspiration to get involved
Given the discussions that took place during the Blockchain Leaders Mentorship event, Fauvre-Willis hopes that these panels will serve as another resource to help females discover like-minded women in blockchain. She also noted that these discussions can encourage women who don’t already have a tech background to get involved.
Other females in the blockchain sector feel the same. For example, Maria Sabando, Miami community leader, told Cointelegraph that she is organizing a women’s event during the Bitcoin 2021 Conference taking place at the start of June in Miami. The event is called “Mermaid Night,” and it aims to highlight women in the Bitcoin sector.
According to Sabando, female attendance at Bitcoin 2021 will most likely be less than 15% as this is often the case with other crypto conferences and is the case in the representation of speakers. She said:
“The mermaid happy hour event endeavors to be the ‘must attend’ event for the crypto community to directly connect with their favorite #cryptotwitter female persona. Given that the space is already underrepresented, we wanted to create an approachable environment during the conference days to raise the interest from women that may be curious but intimidated.”
Echoing Sabando, Anna Vladi, founder of Women4blockchain and genesis of decentralized finance fund ForceDAO, told Cointelegraph that although the blockchain and decentralized finance sectors are hot right now, the space is still male-dominated.
Vladi is aware of the intimidation women may feel when it comes to learning about blockchain and DeFi, which is why events and educational courses for women are crucial. Vladi said: “DeFi is a very complex world but we need other women in the space to lead the way.”