Recently, there has been a growing interest in the crypto space with more individuals and corporate brands hopping on the moving train.
Sadly, despite the influx of newcomers in the sector, there hasn’t been much progression when it comes to levelling the gender disparity that has persisted in the crypto industry since its inception.
As of 2021, the total number of women involved in crypto trading reportedly makes up fewer than 21% of the entire population of crypto traders around the globe, which currently sits at approximately 52 million.
Specifically, the percentage of women investing in Bitcoin and Ethereum stands at only about 15% and 12% respectively, highlighting a significant gender imbalance. While the figures are considerably on the low side, it is somewhat a significant push from a meagre 5.2% to 8.5% women-crypto-trader population recorded between 2018 and 2019 respectively.
WEF: Bitcoin community engagement by gender (2018)
Women are no doubt underrepresented in the crypto industry for a variety of reasons, ranging from a lack of technical expertise to a larger gender imbalance in the global financial sector. However, the World Economic Forum (WEF) says that the problem with gender disparity in cryptocurrency began with the inception of the technology itself.
In its justification, WEF explains that Bitcoin and the blockchain technology which underpins most crypto assets were developed based on the ‘nerdy’ hard mathematics subjects of cryptography, data mining and computer science.
Sadly, the lack of women in those areas contributed greatly to the gender gap in Bitcoin, and thus cryptocurrency trading in general. However, this problem is likewise intertwined with the greater problem of women’s underrepresentation in IT and finance in general.
If you are very conversant with the investment world, you would be aware that the industry has been long accused of being male-dominated, to the extent it was tagged “old-boys club” at some point. In fact, the crypto industry which is largely considered a new financial system has been accused by various experts of re-establishing the same old culture as in traditional finance.
According to a report by Fortune, the crypto space, just like traditional finance, is still male-dominated. Specifically, the report begs for answers to such questions as “how many female CEOs are in the space?” and proceeded to claim that it’s still unclear how many cryptocurrency or blockchain-related start-ups have been founded by women.
Truthfully, there are just a handful of cryptocurrency projects or companies that are female-founded. According to a Crunchbase statistic, there are only about 292 cryptocurrency female-founded companies around the world. In comparison, there are more than 10,000 crypto projects, implying that less than 5% of these companies are female-led.
Sexism in fintech is an age-long battle
Long before the world opened up to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency alike, the fintech industry, according to WEF, was renowned for gender discrimination in diverse forms including during the recruitment, retaining and promoting women at work.
An insight into the story of AJ Vandermeyden who briefly worked at Tesla suggests how deeply sexism has eaten into the entire tech industry. In her recount, Vandersmeyden explained how, despite her promotion, she was still paid less than her colleagues.
She was also privileged to find out that several new hires who had come to Tesla straight out of college were also paid higher than she was paid at the time. In the end, even though she was eventually fired, she had already filed a lawsuit against the car company both for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination.
A report by TrustRadius backs up the claim that women are treated less fairly than men in the tech industry. Notable highlights from the report include the following:
72% of women in tech have worked at a company where ‘bro culture’ is pervasive. That average includes 83% of women in sales, 80% of women in marketing, and 63% of women in IT/engineering.
The majority (72%) of women in tech are regularly outnumbered by men in business meetings by at least a 2:1 ratio. 26% of women report being outnumbered by 5:1 or more.
Women in tech are 4x more likely than men to see gender bias as an obstacle to promotion. 39% of women see gender bias as a barrier to promotion in 2021.
78% of women in tech feel they have to work harder than their co-workers to prove their worth, and so on.
Setting a different tone
Although the crypto sector is still largely male-dominated, there has been a significant improvement in recent times. However, much has to be done in terms of inclusion and gender discrimination – two of the major barriers to gender equality in the tech industry and, by extension, the crypto sector.
According to TrustRadius, ways to improve gender equality include the promotion of women into leadership positions, and this was strongly backed by 78% of women who responded to a survey carried out.
Other relevant solutions include the provision of mentorship opportunities, flexible scheduling, conducting unconscious bias training, as well as offering equal maternity and paternity leave.
Ultimately, gender disparity in cryptocurrency may take years to fix, but it is not impossible, especially as more women are turning towards cryptocurrency as a gateway to financial freedom.