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The Quiet Rise of Women in Blockchain


At a time when female equality in business is more important and relevant than ever, the Virtual Currency and blockchain space is no exception. Some feel that this space is not only marketed toward men, but that it’s already male-dominated.

I had to ask: "Should we as women drop out of this industry or worse, not even get in?"

In this NY Times article, Nelly Bowls argues that Virtual Currencies are nothing but bro-currencies, marketed and led by men, essentially pushing women out and creating yet another barrier for females in the investing and tech arena. She writes that women, "account for only 4 percent to 6 percent of blockchain investors." According to Bowls, this matters exponentially when early investing creates all the big winners and those winners are predominately men.

The article sites women who not only feel alienated in this male-dominated space but who are so outraged that they are boycotting the space altogether. The Upside’s take? Dropping out of Virtual Currencies is not only detrimental to women, it hurts the industry as a whole. Additionally, there may be more opportunity and female representation in the industry than some may believe. We think that getting more involved is the answer, so I took a closer look by speaking with some of the trailblazing women I've met in the industry.

"Instead of focusing on the blockchain bros, it's time to seek out and focus on the women who are quietly disrupting industries from the inside out -- and blockchain is no exception."

Amy Vernon, VP of Community at Rivetz, a cybersecurity blockchain company, explained, "I'm not sure that there are as few women in blockchain as it first appears there are. Sure, we have the typical conferences where there are more men than women speaking, and more stories in the media about blockchain bros than the women who are making a difference. But any time there's an event that focuses on women in blockchain - whether to draw them in or highlight what they're doing - the event sells out, women show up in droves, and there's no lack of women to speak on the topic.

"I quite literally run into women all the time who are doing new and interesting things in blockchain - co-founders, consultants, journalists, investors. Some are looking to make money in this field that purports to make gajillionaires overnight. Some are looking to make a difference - in short, they're doing all the things that men are doing in this space. Instead of focusing on the blockchain bros (there are bros in every industry, from journalism and finance, to blockchain and martech), it's time to seek out and focus on the women who are quietly disrupting industries from the inside out - and blockchain is no exception."

"These new and disruptive technologies are a unique chance for women to find their way to the top."

Case in point: Marta González, a true digital nomad, economist by training, developer by choice and founder of Crypton, a cryptocurrency price tracker featured in many countries as one the top financial apps on the App Store. I spoke to González who explained, "These new and disruptive technologies are a unique chance for women to find their way to the top of several industries, one of them finance, historically run by men. In my case, I have the impression of being a pretty rare case, not only because I am the sole developer and designer of Crypton, but also for competing in an App Store category dominated by male teams."

"Being a woman in blockchain is the best thing that could have happened to my career."

I also spoke with Michelle L. Staton, founder of blockchain consultancy Digital Asset Affairs, a blockchain and cryptocurrency consultancy, and Crystal Clarity Co., a platform to track cryptocurrency regulation. She said, "Being a woman in blockchain is the best thing that could have happened to my career. My gender thus far has proven to be wholly irrelevant, which is refreshing as a woman in tech. This space is filled with opportunities that I would otherwise not experience for years. I recently spoke about blockchain at a conference at Harvard Business School. This space is so new that being a somewhat early adopter provides that kind of opportunity.

"I think the 'statistics' that claim women make up less than 10% of the space are inaccurate. They are looking right past the women who are already into blockchain and cryptocurrency. Women are doing incredible things in this space. Articles that ignore those accomplishments and only focus on sexism actually do a disservice."

The Upside couldn’t agree more. This is an exciting time for women and the Virtual Currency space offers vast opportunities. If women are interested in and passionate about the Virtual Currency space – they should lean in, not out. And it looks like they already are.

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