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New Wild West: Why It’s So Few Women in Blockchain

Cryptocurrency market capitalizations go beyond $700 billion this year. In 2017, bitcoins brought investors $85 billion, but only $5 billion of them went to women. Also, according to Google Analytics, 94,5 % of people investing in cryptocurrency are men.

Then again, women took just 9,4 % of 7700 working places in US wealth funds in 2015, prompting suggestions that the financial market remains closed for ladies.


Bro Culture

Given that blockchain is a relatively new mainstream sphere, crypto enthusiastic men have caught the moment to create a kind of local bro culture there:

  • The North American Bitcoin Conference, where only three out of 87 speakers were women, took place in a Miami strip club.
  • DateCoin chose a strange way to entice investors, posting the ad with a woman in a swimsuit and “Touch my I.C.O.” text over her body.
  • Men’s rights activists discuss how to use bitcoins to hide money from wives and avoid severance during a divorce.

Intentional maleness is among reasons why women have come to the blockchain later than men. Today everyone talks about this technology, while its potential didn’t catch the eye so much a few years ago. Cryptocurrency served to buy three types of goods: weapon, drugs, and illegal porn. As a rule, it’s men who do sales and distribution here.

Besides, cryptocurrency was a narrow-minded hobby of tech geeks, the majority of whom are men. Quotas for females in IT grow, to be sure, but there’s still a long way to go for equality; so, such a gender disproportion in the blockchain makes a common trend clear.

There’s also a theory that women are less prone to risky financial operations. John Coates, a trader-turned-neuroscientist at Cambridge University, explained it with hormone levels differences: men are riskier and prone to irrational behavior because of high testosterone.

By the way, that’s the reason why some specialists are so skeptical about cryptocurrency: if prudent women don’t invest here, it means we have to do with a speculative bubble. Coates himself believes that women will become a stabilizing force in financial markets.

Women Start and Win

But women may be careful about bitcoins not because of hormones but public expectations.

The blockchain industry is often compared with Wild West, a place for “strong and brave men.” Columnist of Financial Times, Hannah Kuchler illustrates this by means of an example of her relations with a younger brother who tried to persuade her to invest into bitcoins several years ago. She says it’s wrong to explain everything by hormones and biology when there’s a whole system of expectations and limitation, influencing women’s socialization.

“Women, consider crypto. Otherwise, the men are going to get all the wealth, again,” — warns venture capital investor Alexia Bonatsos. More and more girls follow her lead.

Take Blythe Masters, a financial genius who had become an executive of JP Morgan when she was 28. She developed technologies that changed the world credit system. Three years ago Blythe left mainstream finances and launched Digital Asset Holdings, a startup developing software for banks and investors to use blockchain in financial markets.

“Firms are dealing with greater requirements for reporting, transparency, and dissemination of data. Costs have gone up and revenues have gone down. This technology really gets to the core of all those issues,” — she tells in the interview to Bloomberg.

Another is Elizabeth Stark. She taught at Yale and Stanford universities before but now rules Lightning Labs, testing a technology to speed up cryptocurrency transactions.

Pamela Morgan runs Third Key, working with bitcoin startups on multi-signature security measures. Cindy McAdam is a president of Xapo, one of the most prominent bitcoin wallet services. As we see, women don’t want to trail behind, stepping into the world of cryptocurrency slowly and surely.

There’s also a tendency towards women engagement with crypto startups in third world countries. For example, Roya Mahboob from Afghanistan launched Women’s Annex inviting girls to write blogs and earn money from ads. With bitcoins.

For legally disabled women, the blockchain is an opportunity to get financial independence. In Uganda, Tricia Martinez launched Wala, a blockchain platform providing financial services to those with no access to traditional financial services.

Blockchain has its local female activists, as well. For example, the event agency CryptoFriends held the first blockchain conference in May, where all speakers were women. And co-founder behind Tezos, a platform for digital contracts, Kathleen Breitman organized “Attack of the 51 Percent,” a project selling the line that anyone with “more than half of bitcoin’s computing power can take over the blockchain.”

The above startups rank high today, which is easy to check with WooRank.

The industry remains male, although the wider we’ll use the blockchain — the more women will work in the sphere. Countries like South Korea or Estonia take cryptocurrencies under control already, so a gender disbalance will not take long to overcome.

By Lesley Vos, a blogger and content strategist behind Bid4Papers, a regular contributor to publications on business, digital marketing, and self-development. Feel free to see more works on Twiter @LesleyVos.