Despite taking some baby steps forward in recent years, less than 5% of the blockchain space is made up of women.
The conversation is woven into the fabric of hallway talk at cryptocurrency conferences and online forums (alongside scalability, interoperability, and mass adoption). But is any real action being taken?
Actually, yes. Companies like cryptocurrency exchange Gate.io are getting serious about including more women in blockchain. In fact, 40% of its staff is made up of females.
Coin Rivet caught up with Gate.io CMO Marie Tatibouet to find out why a more inclusive hiring policy is so important and what’s still needed to see more women on board.
Women are grossly under-represented in blockchain
There is a dearth of women in blockchain. Conference organisers are not unaware, including an appropriate smattering of females moderating panels, delivering the odd keynote, and handing out flyers with brightly coloured nails and lipstick. It feels artificial. Strategically placing women around here and there to make up a quota isn’t helping anyone.
Brilliant women like Jill Carson, Blythe Masters, and Meltem Demirors deserve our applause. But not because they are women. Simply because they are outstanding. You’ll probably also never see them attending a conference after-party.
Being a woman at a crypto conference after-party can be a struggle. You can pretty much breathe in the testosterone upon arrival, and the women who do show up are hunted down like pack animals.
It’s maddening that it should be that way. The men can get straight down to business while the women endure a never-ending stream of pick-up lines.
Blockchain is gender-neutral. But while the human race continues to act like primates, is it any surprise that women are put off from having a greater presence? It’s not about changing blockchain after all. It’s about a paradigm shift in society – something infinitely more complicated.
Tatibouet says: “We need to change the conversations from ‘giving women a voice’ to ‘being patient enough to listen’, because leveraging some skills around customer empathy and relationships that women bring to the table will benefit the space immensely.
“Finance and technology are two male-dominated sectors. This has trickled down to the blockchain industry, which makes it a male-dominated sector as well… However, as the sector becomes more mainstream, we need to take more steps to improve gender diversity.”
What’s needed to bolster the numbers?
I’ve already voiced my opinion on six-foot glamazons at conferences. And female MCs and moderators who have no idea what they’re talking about make audiences cringe.
So, unless it’s real, meaningful steps being taken to increase the female presence, those ladies should put their intellect to better use. And until the conference circuit and office environment is detoxified and less like a frat house, it’s better for them to stay away.
Tatibouet is more optimistic, however. She says:
“Even though the change has been slow, we are seeing more women coming into the space as we go forward. I think one catalyst for this change has been the fact that the sector has finally realised how much they offer to the industry. I strongly believe that there is a lot that the finance sector can learn by taking the perspectives of women into account.
“But we also need to create a space where women feel appreciated not just for their technical skills, but also for their ability to bring thoughtful ideas to the table. Working towards eliminating pay-scale gaps and providing a flexible working style will definitely encourage more women to take on demanding roles without a second thought.”
Inclusive policies at Gate.io
When I ask what inspired Tatibouet to dive into such a niche technology overrun by men, she replies: “I have been fascinated with the technology for a long time now. As the CMO at Gate.io, it’s my job to help spread the word about our cryptocurrency exchange and the values it espouses. But, I also see it as my personal mission to help educate people around the world about blockchain technology and how they might use it to change the world.”
Tatibouet herself studied finance at the University of Warwick and earned a Master of Science at Lyon Business School before switching her attention to marketing.
“I worked with the consumer technology space before I founded a marketing consultancy, helping tech companies with their marketing strategies. It wasn’t until 2016 that I fell down the wonderful rabbit hole that is blockchain technology and subsequently returned to the finance world. In my current role, I love how I engage with the larger community to bring a great experience to our users.”
She continues: “40% of our workforce consists of women. They hold very important positions across horizontals like product development, marketing, communications, and technology. In fact, women sit on some of the most important leadership positions in Gate.io as well, including Geography Heads in Asia, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chief Product Officer.”
The majority of Gate.io’s internal teams in content creation and promotions are also managed by female colleagues. Tatibouet states: “Being a gender-diverse organisation, our products and strategies around user experience, marketing, and so on reflect gender equality and inclusivity.
“We are already in the right direction when it comes to striking the right gender balance in an organisation, and we’re always keen to include more women in our team for their exceptional skills in planning, community building, and time management.”
Why are women so crucial to powering the space forward?
Since it’s an omnipresent topic du jour, perhaps rather than talking incessantly about it, we should focus on why it matters. Is it so crucial to have more women in the blockchain space?
“Research has shown that women have an inherited quality to keep going back to the fundamentals before moving forward,” Tatibouet explains.
“This is an incredible quality to incite innovation. While blockchain is headed towards mass adoption, it is almost impossible to achieve that without diversity.”
She continues: “Studies also show that women are typically the spenders in the household. They are hence more likely to be the direct recipients from mass adoption of blockchain technology, and the industry could use their real-time insights.
“Moreover, women are great community builders – something that the crypto industry thrives on. They also bring in the much-needed empathy and emotional quotient (EQ) to cryptocurrency platforms that can help companies understand users better and tailor product features accordingly.”
Women in finance, tech, and even blockchain are slowing becoming a greater mass. With more emphasis on STEM subjects in schools and rewriting gender roles, newer generations will naturally see more females attracted to this area. They’ll start deciding from an early age whether they prefer playing with building blocks or sparkly pink unicorns when they’re given the choice.
Changing the blockchain space is as complex as changing society – and it’s been dictated by men throughout the centuries. The important thing is though that change is coming. Like Ethereum’s scalability, we just have to patiently wait.