As Satoshi mined the first bitcoin in January 2009, I was delivering a large corporate event for a bank in Paris. I remember this conference in particular because the world seemed to be falling apart around us. The 2008 financial crisis was still reverberating as we grappled with a lack of confidence in our banks, a plummeting stock market, and government bailouts that essentially “we the people” were paying for. A crippling credit crunch had left many people I knew financially insecure – without jobs, with mortgages they were struggling to afford and in some cases, without homes at all. It was bleak.
We were angry and confused. How could this happen? What caused this? What the heck was a CDO? The world seemed to wake up from a dream of unlimited prosperity to realise that in fact, the financial system we lived within was shockingly fragile.
Teana Baker-Taylor is the general manager of Crypto.com in the U.K.
I’m often asked why I went into the crypto industry. I’d love to be able to say that my indignation about the financial crisis was an immediate trigger. It wasn’t. But it was the catalyst that turned me into the seeker I am today. And so began my journey to try to understand what went so wrong, which led to my introduction to bitcoin.
It would still be a few years before I made the leap into working in crypto, but looking through the hindsight lens of the financial crisis, it was clear to me that the transparency, cost savings, enhanced security and privacy enabled by blockchain technology could have an extraordinary impact on improving consumer finance. And of course, I wasn’t alone. The crisis disturbed consumer financial services, creating a surge of innovation and gave birth to an entirely new industry.
Crypto has a fabled past, complete with a mythical founder. But not all myths are alluring. One myth in particular I believe is slowing the growth of crypto is that “Women aren’t into crypto.” Our history, recorded in mailing lists, cypherpunk bulletin boards and Reddit might seem to confirm that belief. Sure, there are lauded women in fintech, women in blockchain, even notable women in tech. But crypto? Nah, girls don’t get crypto.
So, in honor of Women’s History Month 2021, I wanted to address the “women aren’t into crypto” by highlighting a couple of ways women are indeed involved in our financial revolution.
Women crypto users and investors have been steadily increasing. In December 2019, Grayscale published a report that showed 43% of Bitcoin investors were women – an increase of 13% from 2018. The following April, CoinMarketCap released the results of a study indicating the number of women cryptocurrency participants had increased by 43.24% in the first quarter of 2020.
But wait, there’s more. In January this year in its State of U.K. Crypto 2021 report, Gemini highlighted that out of the 13.5% of 2,000 people surveyed who were current or previous crypto investors, 41.6% were women; of the 9% of respondents who said they planned to invest, 40% were women.
Are we seeing an explosion of women crypto investors or have we always been here, quietly stacking our sats? The data is clear: Women definitely “get” crypto. However, by any measure, male investors still outnumber women. Why? I’d proffer that crypto’s marketing machines today aren’t designed to attract women. I’m not suggesting we’re being intentionally excluded, but I will argue we aren’t being intentionally included either. Does your company have both men and women speaking at events? What if the prize for your next trading competition was center court tickets at Wimbledon or a private box at a The Weeknd concert? A gender-neutral narrative attracts a wider customer base. More customers, more profit.
The entire industry benefits when more people join our revolution. Simply put, we will not achieve mainstream adoption without the participation of a demographic that makes up 50% of the human population.
Were you excited to see the market’s reaction to the corporates finally entering the space taking on significant treasury balance sheet positions in crypto? I was. Do you want to see more of that action? I mentioned earlier I used to work in banking – most recently in treasury. I’ll let you in on a secret. Corporate treasury, one of the key stakeholders in assessing balance sheet risk, is one of the more gender-balanced areas of finance.
During my early career in traditional finance, I became used to being one of the few women or the only woman in the room. I expected working in crypto would be similar. But I find that today I work with more women than I ever have previously. Many of us were attracted to this industry for similar reasons. We saw a system that was broken, didn’t work for everyone and we wanted to create change.
“I came to crypto from a highly regulated payments industry. The developed world was failing to deliver efficient and cost-effective financial inclusivity in the traditional finance space. I was drawn to crypto’s ability to lower these barriers and was excited by the simplicity, transparency and cost-efficiency of on-chain value transfers”, says Mariana Gospodinova, general manager, Europe, at Crypto.com.
Quantifying the number of women working in crypto today is difficult, but in my personal work experience, I’ve been surrounded by women – and women in leadership roles as well. Unfortunately, this isn’t yet our industry’s norm. Have I had this experience because I intentionally seek positions within companies that have women in their ranks? Yes. And why?
I’m attracted to success and the data shows gender-balanced teams are more successful, especially within innovation. Companies with greater gender diversity report higher levels of overall innovation, particularly those with women in director and board level roles. There is also data to support that companies recognized as innovators have more women directors. So if you don’t buy the narrative that hiring more women is good for business, do it for the accolades! How do you attract more women to your team? Hire more women.
Our crypto culture fosters an alternative mindset to the status quo. If we’re on a mission to disrupt finance, let’s extend the invite wide and bring as many people along for the ride as possible.