One of the key claims made about blockchain technology is its egalitarian nature. With its distributed and open-source nature, much is made of the fact that through the elimination of powerful intermediaries, the tech promises to disrupt the established order.
But if you look a little closer at the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, it becomes clear that it reflects the male-dominated tech world in general. Compared to the total population, there are still very few women active in the start-up community, and the blockchain space.
So why is there a relative lack of women? Is down to the fact that tech in general is not a particularly diverse sector (focusing as it does on white men), or does it have something more to do with education?
We spoke to Barbara Soltysinska, CEO and co-founder of indaHash about her take on the issue. The influencer marketing platform recently raised 53,000 ETH through its ICO, hitting its pre-ICO cap in only 4 days.
As someone from a company that would not be traditionally thought of as part of the space, but which just took a bold step into the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, Soltysinska is in a good position to provide a viewpoint on the situation.
What reasons do you see behind the relative lack of women in the blockchain/crypto space?
“It’s still a very new space that is dominated by men very deep into technology, but with vast adaption it will change and more women will be involved. There is no shortage of smart, strong women entrepreneurs and women working in IT, so as the crypto space gains legitimacy and becomes more mainstream, I believe we will see more women jumping in and innovating in this space.”
Why is this lack of gender an important issue to highlight?
“I think it’s important to note that this industry does not have to be dominated by men. Currently, there are more men working in technology-related businesses, and blockchain is considered to be a bit “nerdy”, so I think this is the reason for the gender gap here, but it is changing.
“We are seeing many more women join the tech field, but as blockchain is still new, it’s almost like comparing it to the beginning of the Internet – uncharted/experimental territory.”
Is this problem being compounded by the emergence of big institutional investors and VC companies into the space?
“I don’t think so. VC’s and investors are looking at the business ideas and growth potential. In our times it doesn’t make any difference what gender you’re. It’s all about what you do and what results you’re able to achieve.”
What are the main tools and strategies that can be used to increase the number of women involved in the space?
“A majority of everyday tools and websites are still not so user-friendly. Just look at myetherwallet.com. These websites achieved huge popularity but their design and user experience are not prepared yet for mass adoption, because to use it majority of the people have to watch some tutorials so it is not intuitive enough.
“My prediction is that this year it will change significantly and more and more people will be able to understand and use cryptocurrencies and tools and also technology would me more user-friendly.”
Is the lack of women simply an inescapable effect of the lower levels of women choosing to pursue computer science at an educational level? Is coding experience an essential quality to have to get into the space?
“I think this is because in my generation much more men than women chose computer science as a career field. But now it is changing because you don’t have to code yourself to run a successful technology company.
“It’s changing because more and more women are now choosing to work in coding and graduating with computer science degrees, so I think we will see a natural progression of women joining this field. I think that in 2-3 years the number of women using cryptocurrencies will be comparable to men.”