Crypto, Blockchain and NFT: Where do we stand with diversity
By Deepti Dutt
What is all the hype about cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, and blockchain technology? Sure, when cryptocurrency arrived it sounded like the stuff of science fiction. But Bitcoin and other digital alternatives to government-issued money are here to stay, as they achieve new levels of mainstream awareness and investment.
Why will Crypto revolutionize the financial sector
Cryptocurrencies are digital money that’s decentralized (no banks needed!), which offers the potential for secure and transparent online transactions. This is why more companies are starting to accept crypto payments.
Blockchain is the technology underneath the cryptocurrencies. It consists of distributed databases that are constantly updated and verified by their users, rather than by any central authority. They allow digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies, to be traded and transferred without going through any centralized financial body. Predictions are, blockchain will offer solutions for the world’s 1.7 billion unbanked adults. This figure represents almost a third of the world’s population, predominantly low-income people and women, who are currently unable to access financial services.
Why Diversity is important in Crypto
Cryptocurrency is projected to be a 21st-century financial instrument with all the 20th-century problems, not enough women representations. Only 7% of women invest in cryptocurrency compared to 16% of men, according to the study conducted by CNBC and Acorn’s Invest in You: Next Gen Investor survey, in partnership with Momentive.
As crypto and NFT are projected to become more mainstream, it is important to have diverse perspectives in creating and running the systems so that better decisions can be made. Crypto and NFTs are a path to financial independence. But the studies have shown that if the current trend of adoption continues, the crypto world would mirror the current tech and finance world with respect to the gender gaps which in turn can create a huge financial gap.
Diversity gap in Crypto and Blockchain
As the blockchain continues to lead fresh frontiers in finance, the need for diversity is very critical. It is crucial that all demographics are represented both at the leadership and the consumer level.
However, the worlds of finance and tech are predominantly male, the innovative collision of the two is no different. This includes the blockchain, which is desperately devoid of diversity.
More specifically, the proportion of women in leadership positions at financial firms is only 21.9 percent and, by 2030, it is projected to reach only 31 percent if it sustains its pace. Meanwhile, women make up just 28.8 percent of the tech workforce. As for fintech founders, females are few and far between, accounting for just a mere 7 percent.
According to a global Quartz survey, out of 378 venture-backed cryptocurrency startups that were founded between 2012 and 2019, only 8.5 percent had a female founder or co-founder.
Reason for the diversity gaps
1. Crypto often starts as a side hustle
Many people get into crypto or flipping NFTs as a hobby or as a side hustle. Most side-hustle activities are done after-hours, in the evenings, or during the weekends.
This side-hustle culture might attract more men than women because women of all generations are still largely responsible for childcare, housekeeping duties, grocery, and meal prep. Married women with children dedicate nearly twice as much time to cleaning, childcare, and housework compared to their husbands.
According to a study, side-hustle numbers show, 46% of employed men report having a side-hustle, compared to 35% of employed women. An average monthly side hustle paycheck for a man is $2,708, compared to women which is only $526. For many various reasons, side hustles end up being much less profitable for women.
Crypto has the potential to bring more women into the fold. We need to find a way to make it feasible and easier for women to get into crypto full-time rather than having to take it on as a side hustle. Or creating it easier for women to get into the side hustle quickly and enabling them to make the equivalent profit as that of men.
2. Crypto is for risk-takers
Studies show that women are more risk-averse than men. And crypto, as we know from the rollercoaster-like dips and bumps that we experience on a weekly basis, is rather risky. But do women really feels that risk-averse that they can’t hold some blue-chip crypto?
In one of the studies where they compared risk-taking between men and women in two different risky sports ( Cliff diving & freediving) it was found that even though women are underrepresented in both sports, the women who are in those sports don’t show any fewer instances of risk-taking. In other words, women in those sports are just as risk-tolerant as their male counterparts. There must be other factors at play.
One possible explanation is our socialization. From an early age, women are socialized to play safe and not take any risks, while men are encouraged to do daring things. Socialization and societal expectations of women contribute to the creation of risk-aversion more than anything else.
While it’s hard to change societal expectations, it is easier to make changes on a smaller scale. Rewarding both men and women equally for the risks they take, and then encouraging more healthy risk-taking, would be a great first step.
3. Crypto required skills like comp-sci and finance
Two of the primary disciplines that feed directly into crypto are finance and computer science. Women representations in both sectors are pretty low According to a Preqin report on Venture Capital firms, women only make up 17.9% of the employees and 9.9% of the senior roles. And college majors in pure and applied science still have four men to every one woman.
But is this the real problem of having fewer women adopt crypto? The reality is, in actual crypto communities and DAOs have people with other core skills, There are people who are communicators, writers, thinkers, artists, and readers. They are not solely number-crunchers or people who are deep into coding.
Crypto is getting more people with diverse skills and from different backgrounds that aren’t just VC firms or Silicon Valley tech startups. Recently we have seen an explosion of artists, writers, musicians, fashion designers, and many more in the NFT space. There is an immediate change required to the narrative of crypto as a place for only people who care about finance and computer science. It is so much more than that.
4. Crypto is an anonymity-friendly space
There is a perception that crypto communities enjoy anonymity, Actually, these anons aren’t anon so they can hide from their past. Rather, they are anon so they can create a new identity that better fits them in the new reality we’re all building. It makes crypto better that people can be comfortable in their own skin and their new identity.
Anonymous spaces have historically been hostile to women. Anon-dominated platforms, like Reddit and FourChan are not places that women often traffic. Anonymity is, unfortunately, one of the main traits that allow these movements to persist.
Women prefer to use their “real” names and “real” pictures on Discord and Twitter more often than men. But taking away the rich culture of anonymity means, we lose a major piece of what makes crypto what it is.
We just got to make it clear to more women that this anon crypto space is not like the ones we’ve all heard about and stayed far away from. This is a welcoming, warm space that is meant to be inclusive to all. And, with some positive press and welcoming more into this space is the way to go.
It is important that women participation in the cryptocurrency business and blockchain tech happens quickly. Early adopters who develop blockchains and invest in cryptocurrencies before they go mainstream get the major share of its wealth and influence.
If women fail to get involved sooner, two important opportunities might get missed: the chance to make their mark on modern finance, and the moment to share the wealth that new, successful technologies bring.
A few immediate steps we can take are
Support more women-centric DAO’s
Hire more crypto outsiders: Many women haven’t been in crypto that long, for the reasons described above. However, diverse perspectives are essential for a strong company, DAO, or protocol
Spark conversation with all your friends and family about crypto, not just the guys who bought GME on Robinhood. There’s a place for everyone in this industry, so make an effort to discuss and more women into the crypto work.
A simple and thoughtful way to involve is by gifting an NFT and making the curious to learn about it, Personally, that is how I got hooked into crypto after I got “deepti.eth” gifted by my brother for last Christmas.