28 May, 2019
A recent Medium piece caught our attention, focused on the growing movement of women in blockchain calling for gender equality. Entitled “Why We Need More Women in Blockchain,” it was written by Setareh Sabety, a wordsmith at SwissBorg.
A self described “‘analogue’ feminist,” Sabety wants to raise awareness of the gender divide in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.
“If we want to usher in a new era, we need to make sure it reflects the best of us, that it embraces the notion of diversity and gender equality that much of humanity has adopted.”
After researching the subject, attending conferences, and talking to other industry folk, Sabety realized that the absence of women in the field is “so obvious it’s worrisome.” Yet how quickly we forget the many achievements of women in tech. For example, the world’s first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace, wrote the first complex computer program in 1843, and just so happened to be a woman. We wrote about Ada and other female pioneers of STEM in our recent #WomenFirst blog, as a means to remind us of the important technological advancements by women.
However in blockchain, women account for only 5%. And of course the stats around women in tech aren’t much better. With less than 5% of start-ups owned by women, we find that women often receive 63% lower pay for the same job.
Sabety calls out that blockchain has been known for its toxic “bro culture.” For example, at the North American Bitcoin Conference in 2018, only three of the 88 speakers were women, with the official after party hosted at a strip club (with a liberal touching policy).
“The lack of women in blockchain is especially disappointing because the technology is poised to address gender inequality directly, especially in developing nations. Blockchain is expected to empower women financially by giving them a secure identity and access to non traditional banking.”
The blockchain is also helping women thwart government censorship. Chinese women posted their #MeToo letters on the blockchain in the spring of 2018, ensuring their piece of history would be preserved.
Other efforts are addressing the problem as well: Lightning Labs announced scholarships for female blockchain devs in New York City earlier this year. Recently, a Swiss cryptocurrency association announced that they needed more female leaders. And at Hard Fork Decentralized, The Next Web’s blockchain event, women received tickets at 85% off.
Obviously, there’s much more work to be done. Sabety notes:
“For an innovating force to be truly disruptive it has to embrace the whole of the population. Mass adoption, the dream of blockchain enthusiasts, clearly needs to include women.”
Opinion pieces like this one are critical to raising awareness about the lack of women in blockchain. Here at Veritoken, we’re proud to be the first woman-owned company to complete an STO (ICO) under ERC 884. We’ll continue to push the conversation forward of women in blockchain.
So how does Sabety recommend we fix the blockchain gender divide? Returning to primal human skills learned in hunter-gatherer society, she stresses the resolution through good old fashioned networking and gathering. “Strength is in numbers and only when we come together can we be counted.” Together, we rise; words to live by.