Bitcoin – Where Are the Women?

4.5/5 - (2 votes)

A recent Binance Research study shows that approximately 95% of all Bitcoin holders are men.

Redistribution of Wealth to Men

When reading the Bitcoin whitepaper and the transformation towards a new decentralized, digital monetary system, I realized that we’re in the middle of one of the greatest redistributions of wealth and power in the last century. 

As I see it, there will be those who own crypto assets and those who don’t. We’re undergoing a massive land grab in cyberspace, similar to the first land distributions in the physical world. For instance, there will ever be only 21 million Bitcoin, and most are already distributed…

to men.

After browsing hundreds of crypto and Blockchain articles, books, podcasts, and YT videos, it struck me that women are seriously underrepresented in the space.

For example, here’s a list of some of the top crypto influencers based on my research: Vitalik Buterin (founder of Ethereum), Erik Voorhees, Barry Silbert, Tim Draper, Charlie Lee, Brian Armstrong (CEO of Coinbase), Nick Szabo, Fred Ehrsam, Andreas Antonopoulos, Ben Horowitz, and Roger Ver.

Personally, I’d add a couple more: Michael Saylor (bought $1B or so worth of Bitcoin), Robert Breedlove (Bitcoin Podcaster), the Winklevoss brothers (they own 70,000 Bitcoins), Garry Tan (investor and venture capitalist), and Charles Hoskinson (researcher and founder of Cardano).

I could go on, but you get the point: where are the women?

Of course, there are some very influential women in the space (such as Cathy Woods), but, percentage-wise, it’s dominated by men. Bitcoin may or may not be the new monetary energy for the upcoming century. But if it is destined to become the decentralized monetary standard in the digital age, the new crypto-fortunes created in the process will be primarily owned by men.

I think this is an unfortunate state – and I believe that women will not benefit to the same extent from the crypto transformation. Indeed, this sad truth doesn’t seem to be on the radar screen of media outlets. Nobody is talking about it yet, but soon it may be too late.

For example, consider the Bitcoin 2021 conference with panel discussions such as how to go from 100 million to 1 billion Bitcoin holders. Approximately 84% of the speakers were men (167 men, 5 anonymous, 27 women). We are collectively building the rules and incentive systems for the new crypto ecosystem.

Percentage-wise, women have significantly increased their influence in the tech and financial industries over the last decade. Why is this not the case in the crypto ecosystem? I’ve asked the Finxter community and here are the responses:

Community Responses: Why Are Women Underrepresented in the Crypto Space?

In the following, I’ll give the unabridged and unedited replies from the Finxter community. These don’t necessarily reflect my own opinion. I hope you find them valuable, though.

Women Don’t Trust the Hype

Thank you for the thoughtful email on equality and crypto phenomenon. Personally I am still sceptical about the long term viability of block chain currencies. In my opinion the inventors and initial investors (already wealthy) are the ones who profit. The rest of us might end up losing our life’s savings on a virtual currency not based on anything in the real world. I see the crypto minining industry crating a lot of false hope and hype. 

I don’t think that we will ever do away with the traditional banking system. Also the crypto space is underregualted and increasingly being regulated by governments. As at this moment this lack of regulation also leaves opportunity for sub-par practices ;)

Perhaps the underrepresentation is due to a lack of trust in the currency not a lack of opportunity?

Opportunity Exists

Please don’t confuse equal opportunity with equal outcomes.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Not only are women left out, but even when they are an equal part of anything percentage-wise, women's pay is not equal for the same job men are doing. Pay should be dependent on ability to do the job. If a man is working in a warehouse, and the job requires lifting 50 pound items all day, and a woman applies for the same job, and can do the same work, why should she receive lesser pay? If a woman is working as a hairdresser, and a man applies for the same job, he WILL get the same pay, or possibly more pay. It is way past time to be fair about men/women equality.

Women Have a Different View on Risk

Hi Chris – thanks so much for this thoughtful post (and for inviting replies).

As a women who has recently up-skilled to be part of the tech space (and after a career focused on helping disadvantaged people) I’m very concerned that the situation of people in non-dominant groups will be made worse by AI, bitcoin and many other new technologies.  Your article touches on many interesting facets of the modern financial economy.  We know, for example, that women take a different view of financial risk than men; that the language used in finance and financial education is masculine coded and unappealing to many women; that the way IT is taught in UK schools fails to capture the imagination of girls… I could go on! 

Thanks for highlighting this issue.

Starting a Female Bitcoin Clone

Hi Chris, It sounds like it's time for a few enterprising women to start their own bitcoin system.

Less Talent

Women are underrepresented because they don’t have the talent men do.  I bet 90% of you customers are men, you literally get nowhere by buying into the lie of equal gender crap.   If they can performance have talent then they will get jobs

As a Gen Z Woman: Bitcoin is a Boyish Fad

As a Gen Z young woman, thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this email. 

No one at my all-girls schools ever encouraged us to study business or tech— I have even been told by other female mentors this year that I will never be the “smartest in the room” when it comes to code no matter how hard I try, and to stop trying. This obviously made me want to study harder and prove them wrong.

I have spoken with my own mother about the topic of women in the workforce in the 80s; she said that the boom was largely due to the work new wave feminists and hippies did in the 60s, which paved the way for equality. Additionally, there was a sort of corporate “me too” movement in the 80s which caused business HR to support women better via sexual harassment reporting and standards. And then (at least the US government) made discrimination and sexual harassment at work illegal (although it didn’t stop altogether, and still hasn’t). There was also an 80s & 90s media culture which glorified the woman in the workplace (Sex & the City, Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, Friends, etc.) even then, the women mainly only held secretary, singer, writer, or chef jobs. The US hasn’t had this similar push in the tech sphere as the business and politics sphere did in the 80s; neither as a legal federal push, HR corporate push, or cultural media push. 

I don’t agree that tech has caught up with women in the workforce, having attended the Women in Product Management conference a few weeks ago which is only 3 years old. But I do agree it is a problem, and hope your daughter’s generation grows up into a different world. 

My parents are both very supportive liberal feminists, yet for some reason whenever I try to discuss my hopes and dreams to break into Venture Capital, entrepreneurship, and product management, my parents become skeptical— especially my mom. She’ll discourage me and say it’s a waste of time. I almost think this is left over from her bitterness of being denied similar opportunities in the workforce in her career, or derives from a knowledge of her own youthful ambition eventually hitting a glass ceiling which historical sexism and its quiet engrained rules wouldn’t allow her to break it.

I haven’t yet invested in Bitcoin, because I feel “I don’t yet understand it.” I have been investing on my own for 5 years now, and my Investment Banking friends tell me I should be doing their job. What am I waiting for?

I don’t know. In my head, Bitcoin is a boyish fad that the egotistical and power-thirsty gender is inflating. But after your email, I am inspired to at least download a Bitcoin trading app & research.

Again, thank you for writing this and please feel free to reply directly to this email. Your daughter will grow up to be anything and everything you hope she will, and more.

Bitcoin and Lambos are Masculine

very very nice point Chris
I'd like to read more about this! 

my little contribute to the cause: 
the lifestyle around bitcoin are very "masculine": lamborghini, show-offs of gold chains and jewelry, aggressive approach to those who do not think like you (usually). On the other hand, for example, the social aspect and sharing of the wealth generated is very much missing. it is still a world where the strong eats the weak.

This can be contrasted with a more sensitive approach. Of course, this implies that women have a different purpose than males, and perhaps therefore is a preconception in itself. Maybe too much testosterone? :D 

Civil Disobedience

Chris, a good and thoughtful/though-provoking article. I do not have an answer other than civil disobedience.  
I guess, men like us need to just fight for and support socially conscious businesses/currencies.

2021 Bitcoin Conference was Dominated by Men

Hi  Chris, 
I appreciate this email. It's nice to hear you are a fellow bitcoiner (although I'm not surprised). 

I've been researching bitcoin for the past 4 years and am obsessed with it. I see the potential it has for changing the world and want to be apart of the change. I went to the bitcoin conference this week and it is mainly packed with men, some women but also some women with clear ulterior motives. I almost felt like I didn't actually belong there or I was an imposter. It was my first conference so I'm hoping with future conferences I'll begin to feel more welcomed. I feel like it also wasn't a true bitcoin conference so hoping to attend solely bitcoin events soon.

I wish I had chosen computer science when I was younger so that I could have been involved in some way but I'm coming from a medical field. I'm teaching myself python at the moment to get into data science and machine learning but thats as far as I've gone. 

I would love to be involved in bitcoin as I just feel like it is so important for our future but I wouldn't even know where to start and not really sure how I could even contribute with my background. 

Your daughter is lucky to have someone able to teach her about these things at an early age. I hope to do the same one day. 

Where Are the Men in Cosmetics?

I am writing to you anonymously due to the climate of differing opinions. I often find myself asking questions about the way society views social issues. I feel as if we are making more problems by making problems out of non problems or focusing on the wrong thing to solve in perceived issues. Critical thinking of these issues are punishable by social media exile and public humiliation. This is why I ask that you keep my identity obscured in this rebuttal. 

When I read your email, I know you meant well. I have a daughter myself and I would love to see her soar and succeed to the heavens. I will admit, there are some things that my daughter would have a hard time doing and there could be some gatekeeping from men who do not have an open mind on things. However, in my lifetime, I have seen some women do some incredible things. They have broken barriers, records and so on. Because of this, I have no fear that she will succeed in anything she works hard at.

I have seen women CEO’s do a fantastic job with their company and I have worked under a few female led companies. Never once did I think to myself that the company would be better ran if the CEO was a man. To further that, I have started many jobs with women and through friendship at work, found out that they made the same as me, starting out. When promotion time came around, sometimes my female colleagues would make more than me because they did better, had better qualifications and so on. I did not complain, I knew it was fair and if there was any shadow of doubt, I could always submit a complaint to the Department of Labor for investigation. 

I am saying all this to say, there is a lot of misinformation out there designed to make us believe that there is some shadowy cabal keeping women, minorities, etc. down. More specifically women. I know that this is misinformation because I am a minority man, a black man at that, and I can say that a lot of the things that are happening right now can be reflected back to the source of the complaints. 

On the other hand, I am very excited for the future of technology. I have invested thousands of dollars into the crypto market as I know this will be the future of everything. I know that my daughter will have the better end of the technologies coming up because she would have grown up with it and just her being exposed to it is going to make her exponentially more knowledgeable in this space than I ever will be. However, I do not think that the fact that she is a woman will hinder her in achieving all that she can in this space. If she wants it, it is there. Period. 

If she wants to be a clown, it is there. If she wants it, she can get it. 
 You get the idea. 

You are asking the question, “where are the women? (in crypto)” Good question! 

Before I answer that, let me ask you a question in return: Where are the men in cosmetics? 

I do not have statistics on hand, but, if I had to bet, I would say that women dominate this market single handedly in careers, purchases and services rendered. Why? Because on average (NOT ALL WOMEN) this is something of interest mostly to women. 
There are a few men, but do we need more? Not really. Is it a problem? Not really.

And we can break it down even further to race, income level, education level and so on and in all of these categories, we will find inequalities. 
The point I am trying to make is this— I think you are asking the wrong question. 
I have two friends, both women, that are heavily invested in crypto and I also have some crypto set aside for my daughter for when she is older. The women are in crypto. 
The men may be louder, but the women are here. 

I think we should ask a better question: “WHY are there not so many women interested in crypto?” Honestly? I think it might boil down to awareness. [...]

I Had a Great Career … Until I Had Kids

As  a female whose worked in this field for more than 20 years, I've  discovered that there is a huge problem with the culture in IT. And I'm  not talking about sexism or misogyny or any of the buzzwords - those  parts of the job have changed drastically since I started.  And that is  for the better, although white men continually promoting people that  "look like me" is still an issue, but that's in every business. 

The  culture that I'm talking about is the demands placed on programmers and  the way department goals and messages are structured.  I was a DBA for  most of my career and had never had any issues getting jobs, keeping  jobs, or dealing with people in DBA groups because I was a female.  I  could answer the interview questions and learned what I needed to.  I  had a great career ... until I had kids.  

If  you get a chance to listen to any of Brene Brown's talks on shame, she describes a general difference between the way men feel shame and the way women feel shame.  Men's shame (according to her data) is usually  focused on their success at work, and women's shame centers around their success at being able to do all the roles.  I see the culture in  IT organizations built around that men's definition of success.

It  was fine when I could work late nights and weekends and get things  done, but after having kids, the ability to meet the high pressure  demands of the job pushed me out.  I had to switch from DBA roles to  development roles and saw that many women developers were talked into  Project Management: ("you're so organized" or "your people skills are  your strength") - away from the tech jobs.  

As I'm reading more and  more women's groups - there are two questions repeated over and over and  over again:  how can I get my job to understand that I need time to do  <whatever>.  Developers work until the project is done - and even  in the jobs that claim to value work-life balance, don't understand the  time it takes to project-manage kids.  Managers like to promise that  projects will be done quickly, and that usually requires a push to work a  lot of hours without unplanned time off requirements like "kid is sick  and only wants you".

A lot of men are involved these days and take on  a lot of the work load, but generally they are still compartmentalizing  the tasks - someone else organizes and they do what's asked.  There is  that hidden part of putting the schedule together (I think they've named  it "emotional labor" - I hate that title) that mostly falls on women.  That's not built into a developer's schedule.

We  get maybe 15 days off a year - none of that is for finding childcare or  attending meetings for extra-curricular.  And they all want parent  involvement.  When I see "Muffins for Moms" at daycare, I feel like I'm  expected to be there as part of my "job".  When my husband sees "Donuts  for Dads", he says he'll go if nothing urgent is happening at work.

So  if a women gets past any social issues around jumping into what may  culturally be seen as a "man's profession", and gets past her own doubts  of how to handle things when they get hard (what encouraging messages  are they getting as they learn vs discouraging messages), gets a job  (which was never an issue) and gets into the industry ...  how does that  career go?  How is she seen as a TECHNICAL professional? How is her  input taken in?  How does she get her ideas implemented?  I see a lot of  discussion in the chats about not being able to make it past the  competitive conversational atmosphere and not feeling heard.  In my day we came with "I guess the biggest asshole in the room wins the argument", but I  think these days companies try to go with writing playbooks that say  "no jerks allowed".  Even StackExchange has realized that having people  shout "You're Wrong! READ THE MANUAL" is much more exclusionary and  unhelpful than giving a structured reply of an explanation and example  or giving pointers back to a repeated question while still allowing the  OP some dignity for daring to ask a question that might have been  answered before.  

My style was to just interject my ideas as a  question to try to deflate the feeling that I was attacking their ego -  turns out that's how a lot of women try to maneuver that situation.  But  that's an overall discouraging message.  Project managers don't have to  be put in that position and most of their interactions with "technical  people" is ... asking questions.  But a lot of these conversations could  have just been assisted by having a coach or someone in the room to  facilitate them.  People are very emotionally tied to the solutions that  they come up with and it is possible to structure the conversations so  that you don't make them feel like they're being rejected if the  solution becomes something different.  That is a cultural thing in IT  that really really needs to be addressed. 

So  then how does a female move up in the technical positions?  That part, I  don't know - I avoid the politics, but what I see a lot is that it's  usually men promoting people they know.  And they tend to golf together  or share other outside activities - and a lot of women's outside  activities revolve around kids, if they have them.  

So  - I think to get more women into the field:  more encouraging messages  as they go through the learning process, more examples of older women  that are still being TECHNICAL contributors (not project managers), more  PART TIME programming positions (which would mean a complete  restructure on how projects are done and the time commitments), making  sure technical contributions and ideas are heard from everyone (even  part-timers) in a manor that's not a oratory competition, managers need  to keep an eye on the group dynamics, time to LEARN,  and CAREGIVER TIME  OFF (which is not the 15 days PTO, but I'm not convinced this will  never happen).  

And then you'll need to address the huge lack of  minority women in this - I can't speak to what the issues and barriers  are there, but wow is it striking how the question of "women" is usually  only about White women (yes, that's me).   The lack of minority  representation in general is really obvious.   I've never seen IT groups match the make-up of the communities where they are located. 

Women code.
Women love to code.
But there is a lot that the IT world is doing that just creates an atmosphere that cuts women out.

That's my take on it.
I'm sure this is not a majority response - especially if the audience is men.  :)  

Thank you for all your Python posts.
I just started learning Python last year and am using it for all my backend lambdas in my personal projects.  :) 

BTC is Not a Politically Left Idea But Women in Tech Tend to Be

I think it's a specific type of people that are into BTC, specifically ones who are interested in Technology and hold to a Libertarian political philosophy. I think MOST women in the tech space don't lean politically Libertarian (obviously I'm making generalizations, but I think overall this generalization holds true), in my experience they politically lean to the left side of the spectrum, so philosophically the idea of BTC just doesn't seem interesting (I consider myself as an Anarcho-Communist Leftist in this camp as well, in my opinion the entire value of BTC is fake, even more fake than real money - which in itself is kind of fake).

Okay – I’ll Get Into Bitcoin

I don't have anything to add except for I'm female, and have been thinking of getting into the bitcoin game for a long time now - this email got me going! Thank you for the push! :) 

This article is not investment advice but the personal opinion of the author. The capital value of any discussed investment can fluctuate, and the price can go down as well as up and is not guaranteed.