What is Crypto?
The cryptocurrency market is surging as more people are interested in decentralized, secure investing with more potential for long-term returns. Earlier this month, Bitcoin reached all-time highs of over $68,000 as the crypto market soared to a record valuation of over $3 trillion.
Cryptocurrencies are digital forms of payment that can be used as investments or to purchase goods and services. These digital currencies remove the need for a private ledger, like a bank, to mediate transactions. Instead of a traditional banking system, a decentralized system depends on a peer-to-peer chain of payments.
Decentralized finance, commonly referred to as "DeFi", was introduced by the creation of Bitcoin in 2009 by an unknown entity under the pseudonym "Satoshi Nakamoto." Many cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology, where each transaction is connected to those before it to ensure that the data cannot be tampered with.
Crypto’s Gender Gap
It's no surprise that interest in crypto is also as high as it's ever been. In fact, 53% of people in the US interested in getting involved in crypto are women. However, male investors currently make up a whopping 75% of the crypto market in the US. Of all Bitcoin investors, 85% are men. So if crypto has the potential to democratize personal finance, why are so few women investing in crypto?
While there is much dispute over the explanation for the gender gap, it's essential to recognize the disproportionate amount of women in the finance and tech industry. Angela Walch, a professor and research fellow at UC London's Center for Blockchain Technology, told WeForum that since cryptocurrency is at the intersection of these two industries, it's no coincidence that gender discrimination is exacerbated.
Last year, Women in Banking & Finance, a nonprofit based in London, asked women in finance to share their experiences in the industry. Many common responses discussed different "social norms" that made it easier for "mediocre men" to succeed more easily than women with the same abilities. According to the study, women felt pressure to "sink or swim" and bring a niche perspective, while men could coast at an average level of expertise and weaponize their power to keep women at lower levels.
In addition to discrimination in the workplace, Harvard Business found women to hold only 6 and 9% of senior roles in venture capital and private equity. Another study found that men study economics twice as much as women.
The tech industry, unfortunately, is not much different. Women only make up a fourth of all tech positions in the US, and representation diminishes in top companies like Google and Facebook, where women hold only 22% of tech roles.
Of course, it is also important to note that women still make only $0.80 for every dollar earned by a man as of 2020. Additionally, discriminatory practices make these disparities more severe for women of color, especially black women.
Why Crypto Needs More Women
Despite these findings, studies show women are more thoughtful investors than men. In addition, compared to men, women are less confident in their financial literacy but tend to know just as much about personal finance as men.
Throughout history, we’ve witnessed men use their authority to suppress women’s voices and undermine the potential of women in all industries. The stereotype that women do not deserve to be involved in important decisions is incredibly outdated and inaccurate. By educating women about crypto’s long-term benefits and empowering women in crypto, we can truly level the playing field.
3 Women Trying to Close the Gap
One woman helping to close the gender divide in crypto is Laura Shin, a crypto and blockchain journalist. Shin, a former senior editor for Forbes, was one of the first mainstream journalists to write about crypto full-time, starting when Bitcoin first launched in 2009. While reporting on the frontlines of crypto, Shin recognized its potential and believes blockchain technology is the future. Her podcast, Unchained, explores the most pressing topics facing the crypto and blockchain spheres. Shin also published her book, The Cryptopians, which discusses crypto's ideology, how it has shaken up the finance industry, and where she expects it to go. Her TEDx Talk, "How Crypto Could Allow More People to be Their Own Boss," provides an introduction to how cryptocurrencies can create vast financial opportunities for the average person and the modern world.
Author, activist, artist, and NFT developer Maliha Abidi is making the male-dominated NFT world a more inclusive space for women. Abidi is the founder of Women Rise, a collection of 10,000 randomly generated and unique art pieces she created that she hopes will allow for a more diverse and inclusive NFT space. Her collection is a visual representation of diverse women with a wide variety of different traits. Abidi, born in Pakistan and raised in California, focuses on human rights, mental health, anti-racism, and other societal issues in her work.
One of the most notable women in blockchain today is Elizabeth Stark. Stark is the CEO and co-founder of Lightning Labs, a company that expands Blockchain systems and manages Bitcoin transactions. Stark is also a fellow at Coin Center, a non-profit organization based in D.C. with a mission to protect open-source blockchain networks and users’ rights to use such networks.