Crypto Has a Gender Diversity Problem, Let’s Talk About It

Op-ed: Cryptoasset investors are still predominantly male, despite many more women being curious about the space


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key takeaways

  • Companies with a woman in the founding team made up only 17.7% of venture-backed Blockchain startups
  • Women make up only 26% of cryptoasset investors

There is a gender diversity problem in the crypto space. Studies have shown that between 2012 and 2018, teams with a woman among the founders made up only 17.7% of venture-backed crypto and Blockchain companies. This number dropped to 8.2% when looking at all-women founding teams.

Women are also less likely than men to invest in cryptocurrencies. Gemini’s 2021 State of US Crypto report shows that women make up only 26% of the investors in the space. 

“Women tend to be more cautious when it comes to investing,” Jaclyn Strul, the chief financial officer at Xchange Monster, told Blockworks. “I like to understand risk and the technology behind things and in such a volatile industry and market, that critical thinking ensures that I make the right decisions and investments at the right time.”

The crypto space was also born from two traditionally very male-dominated industries: finance and technology. A 2021 McKinsey study showed that 64% of financial services C-suite executives are white men, and 23% of them are white women. The gap is significant also in the technology space, with data showing that only 24% of computing jobs are held by women. 

This gap has been present for decades, Strul said. “PC usage in the ‘80s was definitely male-dominated for the first ten years before women became comfortable and again, the internet in the early ‘90s was also male-dominated until the 2000s before women began using the internet.”

Moving forward

Not long ago, women were legally prevented from managing their own finances; it wasn’t until the mid-1970s in the US that women first gained the right to open a bank account. 

Although we are slowly making progress towards gender equality, that goal remains far off

“Crypto is a fairly new industry, and it is still highly technical,” Lily Hu, a lead engineer at 57Blocks, told Blockworks. “I think as the industry matures, we will see more women and minorities participating in the space.”

Hu echoed Strul’s opinion on women being more risk-averse than men, stating that “typically men are more exploratory in spirit while women are relatively conservative when it comes to taking big career risks. However, I see that changing as more and more women are becoming leaders in their field.”

She also believed that in addition to being in a space that is constantly changing and adapting, the crypto industry is full of new concepts and ideas different from traditional technology and finance. 

“As someone whose background has been in traditional software development for many years, I had to endure a lot of cognitive changes to understand the new [blockchain] concepts,’ Hu said. 

“You also have to participate in crypto to fully understand it.”

Although the demographics in crypto still skew male today, it needn’t imply that women are not interested in the space. In fact, the same Gemini report revealed that 53% of crypto-curious people are women. 

For many women interested in learning more about crypto and looking for opportunities to work in the field, Strul suggests to “be confident in your craft.”

“You don’t have to be a software engineer to be a woman in tech. There are many opportunities for accountants and even if you’re in marketing. It doesn’t matter what your role is. You just need your own craft, and you need to believe in your abilities.”

The first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was designed to encourage financial equity. It was created so that online payments could be directly sent from one party to another without relying on a financial institution. The modern Web3 movement is meritocratic, optimistic and forward-looking. But as an industry, we should remain vigilant about where we’re falling short.

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