Sometimes, equality doesn’t even seem to be a speck on the blockchain horizon

You can't claim to be innovating the future of blockchain if only five of your 50 speakers are women. Seriously, we must try harder to find balance in this space

I love lists. I enjoy order, and I simply adore spreadsheets.

There, I’ve said it.

Now that’s out of the way, I want to talk about… a list. More specifically, a list of keynote speakers who are the star attractions at an international blockchain summit I was, until a few moments ago, excited about attending.

There are almost 50 speakers at this particular event – all reasonably big fish in the crypto and blockchain waters in which we swim.

Tragically, only five of them are women. Yes, you read that correctly… FIVE!

I need but one hand to count the number of female sages taking to the stage to part with wisdom and knowledge. Totting up their male counterparts would involve both hands, both feet, and a couple of friends willing to discard their socks with little or no explanation.

Part of me wants to say “oh well, this is the start, we’ll get there in the end”, but another part of me wants to kick up a fuss and scream “this is entirely unacceptable” as I swing across the backdrop of the main stage on some old rigging they save for panto season.

I think what really irks me is one of the taglines. It claims to be “innovating and pioneering the future of blockchain”.

Is it though? Seriously?

Five women and more than 40 men?

That’s not innovating. It certainly isn’t pioneering. And if you try to tell me it’s the ‘future of blockchain’ I can rustle up a hundred women in the next 24 hours who will stand by me when I argue to the contrary.

Let’s face it, it’s a pretty poor effort.

However, at times like this – those moments when you’re seething about the ease in which many of the folk in the cryptocurrency and blockchain community accept the male dominance that engulfs it – it’s best to turn to one of the few women whose unrivalled command of pragmatism offers hope and light to all of us women trying to muscle ourselves a bigger space here.

I’m talking about the brilliant Sally Eaves who featured on Coin Rivet last week and whom, I’m incredibly proud to say, will be one of our star columnists when we launch our new opinion section later this month.

Her attitude towards the chronic imbalance of gender within our industry is very simply to treat it as a long game.

“Although blockchain is a field where women are still in a minority, change is already happening,” she advises, encouragingly.

“Access to and visibility of mentors and role models is important here, alongside a strong focus on STEM and STEAM learning to encourage, skill and inspire the leaders of the future – I believe that is where longer term sustainable change will be driven from.”

Of course, our role as women – as in many aspects of life – is about nurturing, developing, and inspiring the future.

We have to accept that this is indeed a long game and it may take many years before we’re looking at a list of 50 keynote speakers for a summit which has at least 25 women on the bill.

Sadly, one of my other notable qualities aside from a love of lists is a terrible affair with incurable impatience. Whilst I share, admire, envy and indeed adore Sally’s measured and dignified stance on the long wait for an equal footing on this stage, I still want to think that at least 60% of keynote speakers at all blockchain and crypto events should be female… by this time next Thursday!

Sheba Karamat

CEO, Coin Rivet


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