We all know crypto is male-dominated and the stats prove it:
As recorded in January 2018, women were approximated to own only 5% of the $550 billion market cap for the cryptocurrency industry. Additionally, a study by Quartz showed that over the span of 6 years looking into hundreds of blockchain companies, only 8.5% of people on the founding team were women. Finally, according to Google Analytics data, as of June 2018, 91% of people engaged in the bitcoin community were recorded to be men.
But regardless of the stats, all you need to do is go to any crypto-related event or meet-up to notice that women are a minority both in the crowd and in the limelight.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate some of the women who brought us through 2018 and made some amazing contributions to the crypto world. Women’s input is extremely valuable in this fast unfolding space, so we can bring balance into this field of innovation and disruption. In an industry significantly pervasive with masculinity, it is inspiring to take a look at the achievements of some of the most successful women.
Without further ado, here they are, picked by the CryptoInsider team, and presented to you in no particular order.
Elizabeth Stark had a great year bringing the Lightning Network to life, and also providing opportunities and support for other women to develop in the blockchain industry.
Ms. Stark is best known as the co-founder and CEO of Lightning Labs. 2018 brought to us the Lightning Network – the secondary layer on Bitcoin’s blockchain which allows for instant, cheap, and scalable payments, while enabling transactions across blockchains without a third party. Although the initiative sparked some debate, it is undoubtedly a significant milestone in Bitcoin history. This enables micropayments and more privacy which enables whole new business models to emerge.
Stark is responsible for making the Lightning Network what it is today – and that is an idea transferred into a functioning payment system which kindles hope to those who believe in bitcoin’s use as a day-to-day currency. Despite the state of the crypto market throughout 2018, it’s been a good year for the Lightning Labs. Bitcoin now has almost $2 million in collateral on the network, and has risen to 5000 nodes over the last 12 months.
In addition to these achievements, Stark has contributed by creating opportunities for more women to enter this space. She organized scholarships for women to attend Bitcoin Core contributor Jimmy Song’s programming bootcamp. She’s given us positivity throughout the cryptowinter.
This is what she said in a recent interview:
“If anything, the calming of the hype and frenzy helps us because there are fewer distractions and it’s a better time to keep on building. There’s a lot left to do, but this year has very much exceeded my expectations with the speed of growth and adoption.”
Elizabeth Stark embodies the true spirit of decentralization, illustrating someone who’s held true to their values: “If you really believe in decentralization then why are you creating all these centralized services?” She continues: “We need to get to a world where people can hold their own keys [and] have this autonomy.”
Alena Vranova played a key role in Trezor and Casa to grow as businesses, and she also helped co-found the B Foundation in 2018. She is best known for her leadership and involvement in successful bitcoin projects like Trezor hardware wallets, SatoshiLabs, and more recently Casa. Since stepping down as CEO of SatoshiLabs in 2017, Ms. Vranova has continued to make significant contributions to this space.
In 2018, Alena joined the Casa team as Head of Strategy. The company is responsible for developing the Node (a fast, simple way to run your BTC and Lightning Node), as well as the Casa Premium Plan. The former allows users to make and receive payments, get connected and strengthen the network, while the latter is an extremely secure key management system that’s designed for individual crypto holders and small teams. The mission is to maximize personal sovereignty and safety.
Founder of Casa, Jeremy Welch, says:
“Alena was deeply involved in the launch of the Casa Node for Lightning and Bitcoin. With her mastery of hardware manufacturing and user experience design, track record of building successful business (even long before Trezor), and bold tenacity in the face of unknown markets — she’s a critical piece of the puzzle for growing the Casa Node from a single device experience into a full computing platform.”
In addition to this, Vranova established the B Foundation together with Giacomo Zucco, the director at BHB Network. The B Foundation will “collect donations and investments from commercial Bitcoin-promotional projects, sponsor promising research and development in the field, and award scholarships and grants to Bitcoin Network developers. The Foundation will also provide consulting services to startups.”
As a bitcoin maximalist, she keeps the vigorous spirit of the community alive by encouraging people to take action. In regards to her views and active involvement in the field, Alena Vranova stated: “There is a lot of hype around technology, and I think Bitcoin deserves much more attention, much more communication, much more joint effort.”
Next on our list is Kathleen Breitman, the CEO and co-founder of Tezos, the smart contract system based on a self-governing blockchain. The platform has a governance mechanism which coordinates and pushes upgrades to its network.
In September, the Tezos mainnet went live after a controversial yet successful ICO season. In an interview, she describes her ambitious vision of the future for the project:
“I think an interesting question would be: “What sort of cryptocurrencies will people use in five years?” Tezos wants to be the most useful smart contracts platform, the most useful permutation of this idea [of digital currency]. Making Tezos useful to people is still the primary goal.”
Now, Ms. Breitman is taking a new approach which involves video games. She believes that video games are an important gateway to their blockchain, which will offer a lead to get more people to start using cryptocurrencies. The line of thought follows that games have an ideal affiliation with “adopting new digital paradigms” that the community would appreciate. The specifics of this ambitious plan are yet to be revealed.
Meanwhile, the Tezos Foundation has already committed to dispense $30 million of grants to members of the community who are building tools and services for the platform.
Meltem Demirors has kept our spirits up over the rough year, always making sure to bring the most important things to our attention. She was the Chief Strategy Officer of CoinShares and the Managing Director at Digital Currency Group, which invests in (and advises) 100+ bitcoin and blockchain startups. She was also named in the top 100 people in crypto by CryptoWeekly. In her roles, Demirors is blending legacy with blockchain.
This year, she has taken initiative and worked on the Leaders Series – a series of articles interviewing women who have taken leadership in various projects, and provide inspiration to many others. Demirors explains in an interview:
“People always say to me, ‘Oh, there aren’t women in crypto.’ And I say, ‘There are a lot of women in crypto, they just work for petty tyrants.’ And now we’re in this stage where all of these brilliant women are leaving the companies they used to work for, and starting their own thing. So I’m just trying to create a network to support other women and help them get awareness.”
Ms. Demirors knows what needs improving in this space, and like Elizabeth Stark, sees the good things that come out of the bear market: “I think we’ve gone through this orgy of unfettered capitalism. And [the space] has become very tone deaf. It’s become very illogical, and frankly, it’s become unproductive. We’re throwing good money after bad. I’m excited about a period of depressed prices where we can focus on really building. Now we need to bring some rationality, pragmatism, and risk management to the crypto asset space.”
Furthermore, she’s dealing with the ethical issues that simply escape the zeitgeist of the “moon and Lambo”-minded crypto culture: “How can we bring ethics and behavioral psychology—and also more discipline— to this ecosystem to make it more approachable, and to actually have us achieve the vision we set out to create? Because a lot of what we’re seeing right now is scamming and value disruption.”
Last but not least, Pamela Morgan has published a pioneering system on crypto-inheritance, while working on blockchain technology in fields of law and security.
Morgan works to promote bitcoin and cryptocurrency use in the legal field, and focuses on finding innovative ways to use blockchain technology to provide efficient and independent legal services. She is also the founder of Third Key Solutions, LLC, a cryptographic key consulting firm that “works with individuals and organizations to improve the security of their cryptoassets and ensure these assets are accessible in the event of a crisis or disaster.”
Ms. Morgan published her book in May 2018, and it’s titled “Cryptoasset Inheritance Planning: A Simple Guide for Owners”. Since 2015, Pamela has educated thousands of crypto-holding people about why inheritance planning for cryptoassets matters and how it can be done in a feasible, secure, resilient, and efficient way. The book description reads:
“In this book, Pamela walks you through her successful step-by-step inheritance planning processes. These processes are designed to help you build a customized crypotasset inheritance access plan – and you don’t need to be a security expert or lawyer to do it.”
The addition of Pamela Morgan’s pragmatic and realistic approach to the crypto-world is valuable, as the underlying ideas promote sound solutions for long-term problems. An inheritance system completes the picture for crypto to exist as an autonomous and well-rounded system which promotes self-sovereignty.
Let’s also give a shoutout to:
Kathryn Haun, who was the Justice Department’s main prosecutor for fraud, cyber, and corporate crime. Now she’s one of the most important investors in the crypto space.
Elaine Ou, who does great writing, coding (she even wrote a great script which allows anyone to see whose posts they liked the most on Jack Dorsey’s social network), and research with the likes of Nick Szabo.
Jill Carlson, who provides us with thoughtful and reliable publications such as this one.
The real reason we need more women in crypto
What we see from the ladies mentioned in this article is people affectingly helping one another, creating a positive influence not only for other women but also for the project they are most passionate about. The projects in which they’ve had central roles are based on supporting others, on careful consideration of the future, on making the best of the existing situation, and on leading effective innovation.
I hope that over time we can foster an increasingly inclusive environment where contributions from minorities are welcomed. The influence of women in this space can help to embrace better ethics, ambitions and values.
Women should not only be celebrated for taking on the same roles that have been dominated by men, but for bringing in qualities that are inherently feminine – that is collaboration, empathy, patience, long-term vision and nurture. And I believe the crypto space can absolutely do with a few more tablespoons of that.