Andrea Lo & Karen Chang
As we’ve been celebrating Women’s History Month over the last two weeks, we’ve been able to join in on some meaningful conversations about the incredible achievements and contributions women make to the global economy and our industry specifically. Seeing so many women working and leading on the future of blockchain technology has been inspiring.
But many of these dialogues have also been critical reminders of how much work we still have to do on the frontlines for greater gender and racial diversity, especially in tech.
For example, although women compose 47% of the U.S. tech workforce, the five largest tech companies on the planet – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft – have a workforce of only about 34.4%. And 31% of large tech companies lack any women of color as executives (SJSU, 2020).
And some of this data predates the pandemic, which has triggered a ‘She-cession’ as some are calling it, notably in the United States which has seen women with almost double the amount of permanent joblessness compared to men. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women accounted for 100% net job losses in December in the U.S., with Black and Latinx women bearing the brunt for that month and pandemic unemployment rates as a whole.
While these statistics are startling, they make the work and conversations we’re having this month all the more important. One conversation we had this month that we’d like to highlight was attending the National Briefing of Women of Color in Blockchain hosted by the National Policy Network of Women of Color in Blockchain on March 3-4, 2021. Speakers included policymakers like Senator Warren Davison, regulators like the CFTC, and blockchain innovators from organizations like Stellar to Anchorage.
We were fortunate to be part of an official delegation of 40+ women of color for the event, meaning we got virtual front row seats to the action — and from that, we had a couple key takeaways from the event.
First, we need more women and people of color to help bring blockchain to mainstream users in the US. The pie is growing for everyone. It's important to have more decision makers at the table who represent underserved communities, especially those currently being left behind because representation matters. People need to be able to see people like themselves working at the cutting edge in new industries. And this event, which showcased so many new faces, reinforced that you don’t have to be a developer or a dude to get into crypto!
The other key takeaway from the event was more prescriptive, focusing on how blockchain technology can drive inclusion for the marginalized and underserved, especially small businesses. Thoughtful discussions revolved on how the average Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) around the world can participate in the crypto economy and receive much needed relief from high transaction fees and low savings yields. In order to deliver on that promise, we need to see mainstream adoption in a way that can truly impact these populations which requires more thoughtful public-private partnerships.
To hear more about that topic, we’ll leave it to our CEO and Executive Director, Denelle Dixon, who drove the point home during her panel “CBDCs & The Digital Dollar” which was one of our favorite sessions from the event: