In many ways, women have never been more prepared to take part in or to lead the most innovative and forward-thinking industries of our day.
For years, women have eclipsed men in education and training, attaining not only more bachelor’s degrees but more master’s and doctorate degrees, as well. Although egregious and disconcerting disparities in income equality persist, this education is making women an increasingly important financial provider in their family. According to the Pew Research Center, “women bring in half or more of the earnings, a significant increase from the past.”
Even less tangible measures, like ambition, reflect women’s preparedness for the workforce. A 2017 study by the Boston Consulting Group surveyed 200,000 employees and concluded that women are “just as ambitious as men at the outset and companies were at fault for stopping this, not family status or motherhood.”
Although they are still wildly outnumbered, prominent women like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer have broken the proverbial c-suite glass ceiling, attaining and excelling at top-level management positions at some of the tech industry’s biggest companies.
Though they are far and few between, as Wired noted earlier this year, only 31% of employees at Facebook and Apple, two of the most distinguished companies in the world, let alone in the tech industry, are women. Unfortunately, at the executive level, women are even less pronounced than they are among general employees. Women only occupy 11% of the executive positions in Silicon Valley, and as few as 5% of startup owners are women.
Frustratingly, as a local CBS affiliate reported in June, “After years of talk and little action in Silicon Valley, there is new evidence that diversity in tech is actually getting worse.” Additionally, it’s evident that this reality isn’t just relegated to tech industry titans, it’s observable in other tech iterations as well.
The trend of a male-dominated business model carries over into the latest tech innovation, cryptocurrencies, which are undoubtedly a boys club both in the people who buy them and in the those who manage their companies.
Cryptocurrencies mimic the tech scene
Cryptocurrencies are one of the latest developments of the ever-expanding and forward learning tech sector, but, despite the crypto movement’s rebellious disruptive ethos, it reflects many of the same disparities as the establishment tech sector.
A joint survey conducted by Survey Monkey and the Global Blockchain Business Council found that owners are of Bitcoin, the first and most popular cryptocurrency, are overwhelmingly young men. According to the survey, 71% of Bitcoin owners are men, and more than half are millennials between 18 and 34.
This isn’t just a problem with Bitcoin. The Financial Times reported that Uphold, a cryptocurrency wallet service that accommodates several digital currencies, has a customer base that is 75% male.
Perhaps it’s only natural that the companies swarming into the crypto space are overwhelmingly founded, managed, and populated by men.
Of course, the reasons for this are complex and nuanced.
Some experts, like Stockholm School of Economics professor Anna Dreber, contend that the risk factors associated with participating in the crypto movement either as an investor or a developer are perilous, a reality that may be more acceptable to men.
Meanwhile, it’s impossible to uncouple cryptocurrencies from their tech origins, an industry that is, as we’ve already acknowledged, absurdly male-dominated. Without a pipeline of talented women, it can be difficult or impossible for crypto or blockchain startups to populate their companies with talented women who are willing to take the risk of joining a crypto project.
When will women come?
It’s possible that, as the crypto industry continues to mature, more women will join their ranks?
I certainly believe so, take Elizabeth McCauley and Preethi Kasireddy for example, advisors on the Laser Project, the teams is benefitting immensely from their skills and abilities, potentially even opening markets to female investors who are almost unanimously sitting on the sidelines of the crypto boom.
Fixing systemic problems is never simple, but it’s important that the crypto industry learns from the mistakes of the tech industry. It must make incremental and intentional progress toward diversifying its workforce and its client base.
Women are prepared and ready, and it’s time for the industry to respond accordingly.
About The Author
Shidan Gouran has been the President of Global Blockchain Technologies