How Crypto Can Help Women Gain More Equal Footing in Business Leadership
Changing access to funding changes the game for business ownership and leadership opportunities. Accordingly, crypto has the potential to level the playing field for women.
With the potential to allow for rapid financial transactions without the need for an intermediary, anywhere in the world, there's no question that crypto is a game-changer.
But will it change the game for women?
The women here believe that its tremendous potential will serve women who seek out new investment and business opportunities.
As for the present, crypto is still very much male-dominated.
However, women are breaking in, learning about its opportunities for investments and for careers. (Also read: Top Career Tips for Women Working in Technology.)
Several women explained how they’re betting on crypto not just for immediate returns but as the foundation for their businesses.
Survey Says: Women are Getting More Involved in Crypto
BlockFi offers crypto-centered financial services, including crypto-backed loans and the world’s first crypto rewards credit card. With a woman at the helm as chief operating officer (COO), it also takes an interest in women’s perspective on crypto and just released its second survey: "Real Talk: Women x Crypto 2.0."
Here are some statistics the survey revealed:
- 24% of women report owning crypto. Of those, 70% are "HODLers," having bought but never sold (compared to 55% for the market as a whole).
- Bitcoin (71%), Dogecoin (42%) and Ethereum (18%) are the cryptocurrencies women are buying most.
- Even among those who own crypto, 75% have only traded—meaning they have yet to take advantage of the full ecosystem via earning interest & rewards or engaging in mining or staking. (Also read: How Cryptomining Malware is Dominating Cybersecurity.)
- 92% of women surveyed have heard of crypto with nearly one in four (24%) already owning some.
- Conversely, 80% still find crypto confusing and 72% feel it's too risky to invest in.
- Nearly one in three women surveyed are planning on purchasing crypto in 2022. 60% of those respondents say they plan to buy crypto within the next three months.
- One in five women surveyed believe crypto can help them reach their financial goals, both big and small.
Deborah Barta joined BlockFi as COO after 15 years at Mastercard, where was involved in launching Mastercard’s first commercial blockchain product. Responding to emailed questions about the survey, Barta clarified that the 1,031 women surveyed spanned the ages of 18 to 56 with the following generational breakdown:
- Gen Z comprised 15% of respondents.
- Millennials comprised 34%.
- Gen X comprised 32%.
- Baby Boomers comprised 18%.
Barta also clarified the respondents' annual income distribution:
- 21% had an income less than $24k.
- 23% had an income of $25-$49k.
- 31% had an income of $50-99k.
- 13% had an income of $100-$199k
- 3% had an income of $200k and up.
- 9% preferred not to say.
Barta reported being surprised in a positive way about the progress shown between the results of the last survey a half a year earlier and this one.
For example, almost 45% of women reported knowing how to buy crypto, which is remarkable as it’s two times the amount of women (23%) who reported knowing how to purchase crypto just six months prior. It was also interesting to see that women’s crypto interest extends beyond investing to include careers, with one in 10 women surveyed listing crypto as the most promising career sector on a list. (Also read: The Best Paying Jobs in Tech for Women.)
When asked what holds women back more than men for crypto, Barta said it's because “women are socialized to save their money, rather than invest.”
But abstaining from crypto will mean missing out on better returns than stocks and precious metals delivered in 2020-2021.
As crypto gains attention as a viable financial instrument, more women are drawn to it as well.
“The results of the survey show that women are curious about crypto, and we believe that as crypto becomes more mainstream, more women will feel more confident about investing in digital currencies and pursuing meaningful careers in crypto," Barta declared.
Crypto for Gen Z Women
Anam Lakhani and Eve Halimi created Alinea Invest, an investing platform geared towards Gen Z, giving a new generation a way to invest and create wealth in line with their interests and individuality. Its social channels include Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and LinkedIn, which is not what you typically find for traditional investment platforms.
Cryptocurrency certainly lends itself to Alinea Invest's business model and the platform is developing its own currency. Lakhani and Alimi are unusual in being female owners offering their own crypto platform. (Also read: The Women Who Shaped the Tech World.)
Alinea’s founders point out that in 2019 women owned only 7% of crypto. By 2021 that had doubled to close to 15%. They noted there was a lot more interest in crypto and that it made sense to market crypto to women specifically.
Encouraging women to enter into crypto, they say, “really comes down to messaging, marketing, and community.”
That includes accounting for women’s concerns. For example, Lakhani and Alimi acknowledge that women tend to be more risk-averse than men. That’s why they offer options with investments that mitigate risk through diversification available for $3,000 to $9,000 in one click.
Lakhani and Alimi regard crypto as “a huge opportunity for wealth creation” that women, minorities and young people should not miss out on. Capitalizing on this “financial revolution” can bring about both “more equity and more equality.” (Also read: AI in the Workplace: What it Means to the Gender Wage Gap in 2019.)
Specializing in Crypto Marketing
As a college student, Min Kim knew she wanted to specialize in marketing for blockchain technology and so SHE reached out to Silicon Valley startups and offered to do marketing for them for free.
It was worth it to learn the inside story from the startup founders and CEO, and that forms the basis of her business Blockcultural.
“As an Asian woman, I’m able to have empathy for and understand so many different demographics,” Kim said in a phone interview. She believes that gives her a serious advantage as a marketer to pick up on the various aspects of crypto culture that is distinct from mainstream finance culture:
“There’s a really unique culture in crypto that encompasses interest in social coordination, as well as the role of influencers, even memes and anime—the whole cyber pop mentality. It adds up to a lot of unique threads that are not present in finance or tech culture.” (Also read: Gaming, Fashion, Music: The Metaverse Across Industries.)
“It’s important to be mindful about what you have to bring to the table and what you can contribute to the conversation,” she said.
That’s what women can offer when carving out a position for themselves in crypto.
Kim also encourages women to start learning about crypto, taking small steps—like consuming a few minutes of a video or podcast on the subject—and to not be put off by thinking “it’s too technical and difficult.”
Kim, like Lakhani and Halimi, was clear on crypto forming the focal point of her career plan. That will likely be the case for more women from Gen Z. But Millenial women have also pivoted from one career path to another built on crypto with great success.
Marrying the Old and New to Usher in the Future
Gilded enables crypto transactions to come through and get recorded like standard payments. Before she joined the team that created Gilded, she had been contemplating crypto as the way out of a paycheck-to-paycheck way of life but had not yet found a definitive path.
Casbon-Kelts described how the company's original cofounders got together at an Ethereum meetup in New Orleans in 2017 and discussed “this new technology and how it would change the world.” (Also read: Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum: Comparing the Top 3 Cryptocurrencies.)
There was an accountant in the group who pointed out “how businesses would eventually move on-chain and how blockchain technology could drastically reduce financial risk.” That made the concept of aligning the technology with accounting come to light as the Gilded business model which launched in 2018.
The team didn’t just get pats on the back for pursuing the dream. Casbon-Kelts recalled, “When Gilded was accepted to the Techstar accelerator—we had to come home and tell our partners that we were quitting our day jobs and (temporarily) moving to New York.” Formidable and obstacle as that move was, it paled next to the “disbelief and skepticism” they confronted.
“We were told repeatedly that crypto would only ever be a speculative asset," she recalls. "We were told, ‘Your market is the size of potato.’”
They didn’t let that deter them and kept at it. “And now that the world is catching on, it feels great to play a critical role in supporting the business adoption of crypto,” she said.
Casbon-Kelts explained why something as revolutionary as crypto still needs to work with traditional systems:
"Gilded exists to solve the financial and operational challenges of transacting with crypto, and part of that is supporting the tools and processes that businesses already use, like QuickBooks. We envision a future that is 100% on-chain, but we understand that adoption is gradual. A major part of nurturing the business adoption of crypto is making it easy for any company to add crypto to their workflow. Gilded makes it possible for companies to run on blockchain with confidence and deliver on financial reporting requirements so they can focus on scaling." (Also read: Who Owns the Data in a Blockchain Application - and Why It Matters.)
Casbon-Kelts belongs to a Women In Crypto Accounting group who meet virtually every month to learn from each other and discuss the latest topics and trends in the emerging world of crypto accounting. She loves educating women in particular about the power crypto holds as a key to financial freedom.
More Open the Boys’ Club of Finance
While crypto still has to connect with traditional finance, the fact that it does have its own distinctive culture makes it more open to and appealing to women than the old boys’ club of established systems. (Also read: 5 Key Things Holding Women in Tech Back - and What Can Be Done.)
Valentina Drofa is the CEO and founder of international finance and fintech public relattions consultancy Drofa Comms, which has had over 40 clients on the crypto market. Even more remarkable is the fact that its team is 70% female.
Drofa is well aware of how male-dominated traditional finance is. She recounted that just five years ago a financial conference she attended was 90% male. While crypto does also skew male, she finds it shifting toward greater diversity much more quickly than traditional finance is.
One of the defining characteristics of the crypto industry is its rapid growth and change, which, Drofa finds, creates “great opportunities for female leaders to shine bright and get funding for their ideas” and that women get to advance along with the crypto industry. (Also read: 'Everything Is Solvable': Advice From Female CEOs in Tech.)
It’s not just about investments, she added: “According to the "Global Report on Women, Cryptocurrency and Financial Independence," the assets transformed women’s lifestyle and became a new way of doing business. Women are gaining more and more space in the use of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies to take control of their finances and, consequently, their lives.”
Drofa strongly encourages women to “think about the possibilities that come with cryptocurrencies to build a career.” Noting that the technology is being applied to a whole range of applications now, she adds: “The possibilities are endless since it is just the beginning and the moment is now.”