Crypto’s reputation as a boys’ club comes as no surprise: at the intersection of technology and finance, it continues the legacy of the crypto cultural bridge across Silicon Valley and Wall Street. It wasn’t until 2020 when Citigroup appointed Jane Fraser as the company’s first CEO. She was a milestone in its 200-year history, and in the history of Wall Street itself, when she was the first woman to head one of the largest banks on Wall Street.
Meanwhile, cases of sexual harassment abound at high-tech companies, such as the Riot Games case, which suggests that women simply don’t belong. Just four years ago, the 2018 North American Bitcoin Conference ended with an infamous network event held at a strip club in Miami. Although regulators later lamented the venue choice, this story is just one of many events in crypto history that aim to reduce the role of women in the industry.
It is clear that the perception of the penchant for male cryptocurrency needs to be rehabilitated, and the commercial basis for this is clear. Not only does the extensive cryptocurrency ecosystem expand the appeal of a wider audience, but more importantly, it helps crypto become mainstream. Although there is no shortage of interest or talent in cryptocurrency among women, most crypto traders and influencers are reaching out to a male audience simply because these influencers are themselves male. In fact, CryptoHead’s 2021 list of the world’s 50 best cryptocurrencies has a male group – a symptom of a severe gender shortage due to a lack of women.
Numbers speak louder than words
Women still struggle with the legacy of the male-dominated financial ecosystem, whether it’s barriers to personal finance or career advancement. In the Forbes 2021 Billionaire list, all 12 cryptocurrencies are men. While this can be attributed to the first mover advantage, Amber Baldet, a former blockchain spokeswoman at JP Morgan Chase, believes that women simply do not get public recognition for their work shaping the industry due to distorted media coverage.
At the same time, women-led projects generally receive less support. 2021 was the second year in a row that the proportion of female venture capital funding declined, despite the fact that the overall level of funding had reached an all-time high.
The truth is, cryptocurrency is still a promising industry, so everything, including HR processes, is new, and the lack of diversity exacerbates the industry’s ignorance about necessary workplace policies that better support women. As the debate about gender differences in cryptocurrency continues to gain momentum, the solution must go beyond imposing diversity quotas in its favour, and instead focus on ensuring equal opportunities and a good work environment for women in employment.
Related: 10 Women Who Used Cryptocurrency to Make a Difference in 2021
Why Empowerment at Every Stage Is Critical
When key female leaders are hired due to their professional background and industry experience, it is undoubtedly an encouraging sign that the crypto industry’s efforts to bridge the gender gap are real. It’s time for the industry to recognize and reward women’s talent rather than fall in love with lazy buzzwords and cheap wins when we celebrate diversity for diversity. Women are moving into a number of leadership and entrepreneurial roles in the field, and more can be done to break stereotypes that women in crypto are locked into influencer stereotypes.
Acting begets acting – exposure to female characters in the industry will go a long way in encouraging young women who want to enter the industry. However, in order to support women at all stages of their crypto careers, it is important to consider the systemic and deep-rooted gender inequalities that limit their ability to succeed at work.
All over the world, women are found to spend two to ten times more time in unpaid care work than men. This can include household chores and caring for children, the sick and the elderly, areas that many companies underestimate. Giving women more flexibility and control over their working time in the first place is only a small step towards success, and the nature of cryptocurrency as a global and distributed industry contributes to this flexibility.
Related: Is Crypto Club for Boys? The future of finance does not depend on gender
However, the key to success in the crypto industry lies in realizing the promise of cryptocurrency as a social and financial tool for freedom.