Women have been a part of the crypto space since its inception, developing projects, communities and brands, as well as taking care of the many trenches that this emerging industry requires.
However, they were less involved in starting Web3 companies. According to the Web3 Career Market report by cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin, 27% of women professionals in the field have been involved in starting a cryptocurrency startup, compared to 41% of men in the survey. The same report shows that for many, Web3 “broculture” creates career challenges and barriers to getting more women into the space.
Diversity has been an obstacle in other industries as well, such as technology and finance – two sectors that intersect with cryptocurrencies. As such, it is not surprising that women are still underrepresented among Web3 developers and cryptocurrency traders. More companies in this space, however, are working to improve diversity, seeking innovative collaborations and wider application.
The Cointelegraph team spoke to women in the crypto community about their careers, their journey into crypto and diversity in the industry. These are women from different backgrounds, projects, countries and generations. They all share the same goal: to encourage others, regardless of gender, to join this fast-growing industry.
Meet Seema Khinda Johnson, Co-Founder and COO of Nuggets:
Seema led product development strategies for startups and big tech companies for 17 years before a security incident led her into the crypto space: her husband’s credit card and personal information were stolen. The experience opened her eyes to privacy controls and led the couple to found Nuggets in 2016, a decentralized identity wallet.
To build the project, she decided to email Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, for developer recommendations. “Everyone thought it was ridiculous that he would never answer, but indeed, 20 minutes later I got a reply with a recommendation of who I should talk to. It was a great lesson that you can make almost anything happen if you just choose to do it,” she recalls.
While Seema feels lucky to have some brilliant male allies in the Web3 space, she believes funding and supporting more female entrepreneurs is necessary to increase cryptocurrency adoption:
“If people are serious about bringing 1 billion users to crypto, we need to attract and retain diverse teams that build powerful products with usability that makes sense to all of us.”
Meet Sandra Leow, Research Analyst at Nansen:
Sandra was introduced to crypto by her sister and quickly delved into the crypto rabbit hole investing in altcoins and NFTs. Sandra was an intern at Amber Group before joining Nansen where she is committed to using on-chain data to promote greater transparency in the blockchain space.
Sandra still sees the Web2 stigma embedded in Web3, but sees a shift away from older gender biases:
“The power dynamics are slowly changing and I am very happy about that. You don’t really see inequality, at least not in my experience when I do research, and I think research is generally a very gender-neutral stance.”
Meet Devon Martens, Lead Blockchain Engineer at Sweet:
Devon worked at an education company where she started supporting their Solidity courses. She went from supporting to teaching a program at the University of Minnesota before joining the NFT Sweet marketplace, where she writes smart contracts for some of the biggest names in the industry.
She believes that great role models can motivate more women to choose Web3 as a career option. Devon also sees the nascent industry as an opportunity for women who want to change the world:
“There is so much potential in this relatively new, decentralized blockchain environment, especially for women leaders who want to change the world. Humans literally learn by themselves, so the barrier of certain references does not yet exist, as it does in some other areas of technology or engineering.”
Meet Daniela Barbosa, Executive Director of the Hyperledger Foundation:
Daniela has been interested in Bitcoin from the very beginning. In 2010, she was working on a data portability project in San Francisco, and many of her team members were also involved in Bitcoin projects.
“I remember going to Craigslist to find someone selling bitcoin from their garage in Glen Park SF […] I went to a bitcoin meeting in SF probably when I was 12-13 and felt completely out of place as an older woman among a group of brothers. To be honest, the local scene put me off a bit, but not enough to keep an eye on what’s going on.”
In 2017, she came across the recently launched Hyperledger project while looking for a career in enterprise blockchain technology. As an early adopter of cryptocurrency, Daniela advocates for more women to be involved in the crypto space in a variety of roles, not just as programmers.
To get to know Sandy CarterCOO and Head of Business Development at Unstoppable Domains:
Sandy has been working in the technology field since the birth of Web2. Her first contact with crypto and blockchain was when she served as vice president at AWS. “As I researched the potential applications of blockchain, I was more fascinated by the idea of decentralization, the notion of user ownership of data and digital property, and community-led decision-making in Web3,” she recalls.
From her experience in the tech industry, she has learned that a lack of diversity limits innovation and creativity, resulting in a lack of understanding of minority perspectives and needs.
After joining Unstoppable Domains in 2021, she launched an initiative called Unstoppable Women of Web3, which focuses on educating and training the next generation of female cryptocurrency leaders.
“Without knowledge or exposure to the industry, women may lose confidence and interest in pursuing a career in the sector.”
Meet Briana Marbury, CEO of the Interledger Foundation:
Leading the Interledger Foundation since 2020, Briana interacts with projects from around the world, from disaster solutions to the development of peering systems. Creating tools that benefit others is what motivates her in the Web3 space.
Briana believes that crypto companies need to consider multiple points of view when developing their strategies, and that organizations that do not have a gender-balanced workforce miss out on synergies and innovative collaborations.
“People, especially women, can often choose to forgo potentially lucrative, rewarding and purposeful career paths in crypto – or technology more broadly – because they believe ‘it’s not for people like them’. Intentionality is key here.”
Meet Alicia Kao, Managing Director and Head of Strategic Partner Development at KuCoin:
With a background in sociology, Alicia first came into contact with the crypto world in 2018 after attending a crypto conference. After joining KuCoin in 2019, she found male leaders who used her strengths and allowed her passion to blossom.
While she believes that the crypto industry is “undoubtedly male-dominated”, Alicia also believes that this reality is slowly changing:
“When builders feel valued and included as part of a team working towards a common goal, they are more likely to take risks and come up with innovative ideas. This not only benefits the builders themselves, but also helps build public trust in the future we build with crypto and web3.”