Cryptocurrencies and their associated blockchain technology have been experiencing rapid growth in aspects of our lives. At the start, the technology was not very well received by the mainstream financial institutions and industries. However, over the past few years it has started to be recognised by many for its advantages in terms of speed, cost, security and adaptability. Therefore, we have seen great strides in retail for example, where the likes of PayPal and Subway are accepting cryptocurrencies. In the gaming world however, many companies are yet to incorporate this payment option into their service; mobile bingo brand mFortune being one of the leading brands that seem to be waiting for the crypto market to settle down.
In the meantime, the cryptocurrency world moves on with great resolve and determination. However, there is one glaring imbalance that needs to be addressed. Results from Google Analytics showed that men control a huge 97% of cryptocurrency. Such a heavily unbalanced workplace can put off women from getting involved in the industry. For an industry that has the potential to completely change the way we use finance, it needs to be able to attract the best people from both genders.
But is this possible? What if the nature of the industry and its born male dominance will alienate women permanently? A study from the Stockholm School of Economics suggested there is a 64% probability that a random man would be more prepared to take a risk than a random woman. This is backed up with research from BrokerNotes, which shows that just 19% of people trading worldwide are women. However, 59% of the women are now trading cryptocurrencies, compared to 41% in 2017.
The cryptocurrency world has responded to being almost completely male. Between January and October 2017, four out of 30 of the largest initial coin offerings had female co-founders, and two of their ICOs were amongst the largest yet. That is 13.3%, whilst someway short of equality; it is a move in the right direction and suggests the cryptocurrency world is more open to women than it was initially.
Women speakers are now featured much more at cryptocurrency conferences. 46% of Coinbase’s new employees in 2017 were either women or ethnically diverse. This shift in the industry is likely to see more innovation and an improvement in financial performance, as it has done in other industries.
Superbloom CEO Emmie Chan, believes there is a need to create a community of “women blockchain founders” to improve the gender divide in the industry. She said “We see blockchain as an opportunity to level the gender playing field by taking away the decision power of VCs and letting the projects speak for themselves. But first we need more women getting involved in blockchain. The good news is there is nothing stopping women from purchasing cryptocurrencies and staking their money in female-founded projects.”
Well-known women have recently entered the cryptocurrency world, such as Blythe Masters, formerly of JPMorgan Chase, who became the CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, which develops blockchain software. Elizabeth Stark, former University lecturer, co-founded Lightning Labs, which is building technology that will increase the speed at which cryptocurrency transactions are completed. We are also seeing the emergence of entrepreneurs. Maxine Ryan, a 25-year-old University dropout, launched Bitspark in Hong Kong. Its ICO raised $1.4 million.
Although there is a long way to go before the gender divide is reduced to an even playing field, it can be said that the industry is responding from what it started as, which was almost exclusively male. Well-known powerful women getting involved is an excellent sign that the industry is opening up, and the extra knowledge and innovation that it brings to the industry is a good step forward.
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