The Gender Divide — How Do We Attract More Girls To Blockchain
Cryptocurrency combines finance and tech — two male-dominated sectors. According to the World Economic Forum, only 16 percent of female students graduate from science and technology subjects compared to 47 percent of men. Gender disparity predates blockchain; It has been prevalent in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math) for decades.
Stats on women in STEM Fields from Catalyst.org
— Women Are Less Likely to Enter, More Likely to Leave STEM Careers 
— Women who start out in business roles in tech-intensive industries leave for other industries at high rates — 53% of women, compared to 31% of men. 
— Work experiences impact women’s decisions to leave. Isolation, hostile male-dominated work environments, ineffective executive feedback, and a lack of effective sponsors are factors pushing women to leave SET jobs.
— STEM Fields Have Fewer Women on Boards Than Other Industries 
— Globally, women made up on 12.2% of women on boards in the information technology industry in 2015.11 This is lower than some other industries, such as: 
According to Coindance, as of May 2018, 94.73 percent of Bitcoin community engagement and active participation comes from men and 5.27 percent from women.
I spoke to Randy McGuire, Blazetec Information Technology and Services and advisor for Blockchain Canada, about the history of the gender divide in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and finance industry’s and how it seems to be seeping into the Blockchain ethos but also about Blockchains ability to become the great equalizer.
Randy — The ruling class will always co-opt any innovation that creates a paradigm shift and considering that men have been in the dominant role throughout history, the results of the shift perpetuate class and male rule. Even simple moments of dramatic invention and discovery by women have been usurped by men. The case of Marie Currie is both a case in point and an exception. A scientific community conspiracy to prevent her first Nobel Award was only thwarted by the efforts of her loving scientist husband in league with the man who ultimately shared the prize. Marie’s indomitable spirit combined with her immutable genius ensured that there was no quandary in awarding her the second Nobel.
Still, half a century later Frances Crick and James Watson were awarded the Nobel for discovering the double helix, the structure of DNA, when it should more rightly have been awarded to Rosiland Franklin for her surreptitiously observed scientific efforts. While the the list goes on, we are entering an Age, an Era that will shift and possibly overwhelm the Anthropocene and empower with little regard for gender.
Byron Reese, in his newly released book, ‘The Fourth Age’, divides human history into four ‘Ages’ — The First Age: Language and Fire; The Second Age: Agriculture and Cities; The Third Age: Writing and Wheels; & The Fourth Age: Robots and AI. We are today just at the vanguard of this Fourth Age that is precipitated by the convergence of AI (Artificial Intelligence, The Internet of Things (IoT), and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), more commonly known as Blockchain. This AI Deep Learning composed of Machine Neural Networks capability empowers information, ideas, and processes, not explicitly the ruling class (men), or geopolitics.
And, it is the anonymity, the immutability, and the public decentralization of blockchain utilization throughout the lifecycle of funding, Proof of Concept, deployment & production that provides meritocracy and egalitarianism potential. The radical reduction in the costs of production without the need for behemoth third party facilitators, significantly expands participation from all demographics hitherto locked out. In essence; blockchain only requires a quorum, or ‘proof of utilization’ of participants to make agreements using certain tools to engage new consensus businesses. The ruling class private blockchains will always fight a losing battle steering their bloated enterprises to match the innovative effectiveness of utility engagement of people’s enterprise.
The axis of Karl Marx ideological shift was control of the Tools of Production, but in the Industrial Age, these tools would always be controlled by the monied class. The tools of production in the Fourth Age are available to all. The caveat — we must educate, promote, and market this new reality to everyone; especially the dispossessed and marginalized including those stymied by the ‘Glass Ceiling’.
Audrey — I was surprised to learn about the gender imbalance in blockchain, especially in gaming. With the increase in popularity in the gaming industry as a whole I would have thought that gap was closing.
Randy — First, the legacy behaviour of gaming, a male dominated industry has its roots in the late 1970’s, long before the web when gender stereotypes presented a defacto barrier to females. Online gaming was an outgrowth of this demographic for both production and consumption, inevitably continuing testosterone driven content which in turn appealed to a limited female population despite higher availability with the advent of the web. In contemporary terms, the gender divide has democratized at nearly 50/50 on the consumption side while male domination has continued on the producer side.
This is the genesis of the animosity and it is precisely why Blockchain is a perfect Use Case for gender equality in gaming which is one of the better Use Cases for blockchain generally. With this technology, a good business model is not dependent on the existing Producers or typical industry investors. It is really all about the Tokens that Blockchain enables. Many categories or tokens can empower different elements of Game production, especially in-game content production, acquisition, and payment. A Smart Contract for a specific gadget, let’s say a car, rendered by anonymous female artist will ensure her recurring payment in perpetuity every time that token (car) is acquired (purchased via token). There is not a centralized behemoth dictating pay and assigning art work.
Blockchain app development is still in vestigial stages and the big corporates will certainly carve out their gouging proportion, but that does not diminish the decentralized potential. Some regulation was inevitable though in most situations it will be about asset class consignment, tax filing, and dispute resolution. Good to have these recourses for the greater good and not a showstopper to the myriad possibilities of Token economies.
Audrey: There are many projects making conscience efforts to build diverse teams and yet, many believe the gender divide will continue to happen, this time just in an anonymous and unregulated space. Is this something that will naturally work itself out or do we need to address this?
Randy— This is both the opportunity and the answer. It is precisely because it is anonymous and unregulated that the playing field can be levelled. Education and marketing is the fuel needed to power this engine. Let’s start by informing and motivating girls and women’s advocacy groups, associations, and businesses! I’m ready and motivated!
One additional thought on the male/female dynamic in both Gaming and technology. Of all the events, lectures, Meetup’s, and presentations that I attend in these fields, female participation and attendance is minuscule — a lack of interest it seems. Perhaps this is a conditioned social bias considering in my own house, I have great difficulty interesting my daughter in science and technology with the exception of Minecraft.
She is massively interested in all things to do with Mythology, so I would love to create a Blockchain game with similar content where all content is created via Smart Contract in a token ecosystem. It would also be a tremendous Proof of Concept for Token economies with few barriers.
The better a tech company’s gender diversity, the greater its returns, on average, according to new research by Morgan Stanley.
How do we get more girls interested?
Other developers and educators agree with Randy — that gaming could be a way to get girls interested in coding, blockchain and even to increase the numbers of girls in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math
As Randy mentioned earlier, Minecraft and games like it may be the key. many course offerings based on Minecraft are scoring high marks with participating girls. Minecraft is a Lego style digital game where kids can create unique worlds with blocks, fight demons and zombies. They control their own destiny, build what they want to build and fight what creatures they want to fight. My daughter also loves it. Since its release in 2011, more than 120 million copies have been sold. The game is one of the most searched terms on YouTube, and in 2016 an educational version was released for use in schools. Girls love it and coding classes based on the game are quite popular and often have waiting lists for them.
Organisations like Crypto Chicks, a non-profit blockchain educational hub with a mission to grow the professional and leadership potential of women in blockchain technology through education and mentorship, also believe Gaming can be a great gateway to attracting more young girls to the blockchain industry.
Crypto Chicks works closely with groups like TKS The Knowledge Society, a group that aims to inspire entrepreneurial and innovative thinking in youth between the ages of 13 to 17. They focus mainly on building businesses ideas with new technologies and they also have a similar approach to us by pairing industry expert mentors with apprentices.
Blockchain technology is also about communities and we’re blessed to have the community’s support in our events. Some of the past mentors that have participated in our Hackathons are business executives, blockchain engineers, and even lawyers from companies like IBM, Right Mesh, Deloitte, who were willing to share their experience in this space. Blockgeeks, is also facilitating the learning process for all our women hackers by providing them free access to their online educational portal.
Crypto Chicks is a space where women feel safe to learn, gain great experience to connect with many like-minded and knowledge-hungry individuals wanting to learn more about blockchain and what it is being used for.
To learn more about Crypto Chicks head to Cryptochicks.ca
What we can do as women in blockchain
We can shine a light on awesome women that are already making headway in the space
I have personally met some great women and mentors in the Toronto community including Elena Sinelnikova, CryptoChicks Founder and CEO, Karla Vilhelem, SHYFT, Tracy Leparulo, Untraceable, Erin Taylor, Peblik, Rinn Maximus, ePIC Blockchain and Anna Niemira, Managing Director, BGX Capital Corp.
Show girls how blockchain applies to the real-world and to their passions
Teach them how blockchain can enhance what they already love whether its gaming, robotics, fashion or helping those in need. Show them how blockchain is helping humanity through aiding refugees, bridging the poverty gap, eradicating conflict diamonds, etc.
Work with groups like Crypto Chicks and mentor young women
Mentor at hackathons (competitions where participants build an application on top of a blockchain ecosystem. Participants learn all aspects of the application from idea to execution), speak on career days in high schools, write about your achievements in the space, etc. If you can’t mentor consider sponsoring.