By ALENA LAPUKHOVA
A worrying trend is emerging in blockchain, and it is one all too familiar in emerging technologies – where are all the women?
It’s a pretty important question – we’re already seeing both enterprise and governments invest significant sums into the technology, uncovering use-cases that have the potential to upend the way we live. By 2025, Deloitte has estimated that as much as 10% of global GDP will be built on blockchain applications.
Unfortunately, according to Google Analytics, 91.2% of people involved with the Bitcoin space are men. Another recent survey conducted by Quartz found that, of 378 crypto startups founded between 2012 and 2018, only 8.5% had a woman as a founder or co-founder.
This lack of gender diversity is also evident at blockchain-related events. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami had 84 male speakers and three women – and this was after organisers recruited two more women to placate an outraged public. It originally had one.
The after-party was also held at a strip club, which perhaps provides some insight into the vibe organisers were going for.
The problem is not exclusive to blockchain though, it exists across the entire tech industry. According to Square’s diversity report, 18.8% of employees in tech are women. Quartz, meanwhile, found that 17.7% of startups across the tech sector had a woman as a founder or co-founder. These numbers, while admittedly better than those found in blockchain, are not exactly cause for celebration.
Why we must redress the balance
A lack of women in blockchain and other emerging technologies has potentially devastating implications – both for the technologies and for society as a whole.
The first problem is that it means tech is often designed with men in mind. This includes a number of vital inventions where the unintended consequences of an all-male team have proved fatal. For example, the team behind the car air-bag.
During the design process, they based their working on the height and weight chart for the standard man, who can, on average, stand far more force. As a result, a number of women and children were killed when those early airbags were deployed.
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