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Comment: More women are needed in blockchain

On the eve of International Women's Day, we look at how there are so few women in blockchain and what can be done to correct this

It’s International Women’s Day tomorrow. A time to reflect on how far women’s rights have come and how much more needs to be done.

A study found that only 6% of people in blockchain are women. I posted a story I’d written about an inspirational woman in blockchain on Reddit recently and some of the comments were disgusting – one decried it as ‘SJW cancer’ and others were equally unpleasant.

I’ve heard stories of women being targeted at conferences by unwanted sexual advances, women are regularly objectified on social media in the murky world which seems to be stuck in the past in terms of women’s rights. Women have been underestimated because of their height and patronised. The list goes on!

So what can be done to change these views and encourage more women to work in blockchain and fintech generally?

Dig deep

Lone Fønss Schrøder, CEO of Concordium, the business blockchain network, says: “It’s been important for me to develop the ability to force myself to dig deep into a subject which I might not have an interest in at first glance and allow myself to gain expertise in it. The more time is spent on a particular subject and the more persistent I have been about understanding it, the more interesting it becomes.”

She says she believes consistency, commitment and the ability to keep doing research and asking until you understand the fundamental principles of success will allow anyone to excel.

While female role models are important, she says, it is just as (if not more) important to “first understand how you define yourself. Do not let others try to stick a label on you.”

Dysfunctional working relationships

She advises not to “stay in dysfunctional working relationships, but rely and react on your good judgment.”

Citali Mora Catlett, strategy and special projects at B9lab, which provides blockchain education and training, says: “Although women seem to be coming into parity with men, gender balance in all its dimensions is still not a reality.

“Issues remain, especially in the tech industry, including pay gaps, a low representation of women and women leaving in the middle of their careers.”

She urges business cultures to encourage and actively promote a working environment of diversity, inclusion and equality, as well as making it possible for women to balance the high requirements of mastering the tech industry while reconciling career and family life.

Role models

“Women in tech are the biggest allies to gender balance, as they encourage other women to join the industry, serve as role models for future generations and contribute to finding solutions to improve the openness and inclusivity of the working environment.”

Serelin Zhang, IT Project Manager at Utopia Music, the blockchain-powered music tracking and attribution platform, says: “For women in tech to
achieve an equal footing with men, the industry as a whole has a responsibility to eliminate existing gender inequalities.”

More than half (56%) of women leave the tech industry in the middle of their careers “which is why it is important for us to understand the reason behind this figure in order to fix the problem and to ensure women receive the support they need,” she says.

“Women are inspired by other women whom they can relate to in their everyday lives and work environments. When women see other women achieving success, they will see that it is possible to excel in a traditionally male-dominated sector.”

Opinions valued

She’s hopeful that in the future we will achieve equal opportunity “where women’s opinions are valued and heard just as much as men’s.”

Natalia Karayaneva, CEO of Propy, says inequality arises from differing abilities, choices and preferences.

“It’s important for young women to understand that their lives and their development is in their control. What worries me is not simply gender inequality in tech, but the fact that there are still nations around the world that treat women differently where the fundamental freedom of choice and action is stripped from
them.

“It’s not a secret that generally, the tech space is still male-dominated and women are vastly underrepresented. I am trying to mentor junior peers, show them the opportunities in the field, and help them to build confidence and be courageous.

Solitary female

Sa Wang, co-founder and CMO of IOST, a blockchain network powering next generation internet services, says: “Quite often I find myself being the only female in the room at blockchain events in China, but I take this as a critical opportunity to set the tone for how people see women in tech, particularly those in blockchain.

“The crypto and blockchain industry is definitely a boys’ club, but if the playing field is made level, that shouldn’t stop women from knocking down the door.”

“While profiling women in tech and sharing their stories also has a strong part to play in encouraging and inspiring other women, it’s critical that the spotlight is based on merit,  highlighting real achievements, such as that of He Yi, co-founder of Binance, who set the bar for all in the tech industry.”

In summary – the crypto and blockchain may be a boys’ club, but there are a group of talented and determined women who are determined to break down the barriers. Here’s to the numbers of women in blockchain increasing throughout 2019.

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