Is Bitcoin an Option for Women?
The question of whether Bitcoin is a no-go area for women or something of a haven for female professionals depends entirely on whom you ask. An account written by Felix Salmon for the Fusion website claimed there were “effectively zero” women working in Bitcoin whereas Meltem Demirors, writing for Medium, came to the polar opposite conclusion.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Tech is a notoriously difficult industry for women to break into (only 26% of people employed in computer science are women and only 5% of that demographic in senior positions). While Bitcoin at least has its arms open to female staff, the gender split is on the extreme side of things, at around 95% male for employees and 92% male for advocates/users.
However, the message coming from women working in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is that there’s an expectation of hostility but it's not a reality. Researcher, Andrea O’Sullivan, in particular, has stressed that there are no barriers to female involvement in the cryptocurrency, while blogger and Bitcoin advocate, M.K. Lords, implied that it was “sexist” and demeaning to imply that there are.
As most positive appraisals of women’s prospects in Bitcoin tend to come from women working in the industry, here are a few more women influential in cryptocurrency, as well as some of the ideas they have for both increasing the popularity of alternative payment methods and making them more appealing for newcomers.
A powerful figure in the cryptocurrency community and something of Bitcoin royalty, Elizabeth McCauley is a Global Business Development Head at Coinsecure, an Indian Bitcoin exchange. She’s also a board member of the Bitcoin Foundation, worked for a time as an account manager at Bitpay, and also as a Director at Bitcoin Magazine. McCauley is a vocal advocate of Bitcoin’s potential for supporting charities with faster, more secure payments.
Andrea O’Sullivan is the author (with Jerry Brito) behind Bitcoin: A Primer for Policymakers, a book that discusses the impact of new policies on Bitcoin and blockchain. O'Sullivan is also a researcher and program manager with interests in cybersecurity and internet freedom.
Another highly influential figure, Simpson is a venture capitalist and former employee of BitGo, a provider of extra-secure Bitcoin wallets. She has also worked for Facebook. Simpson is interested in reducing the barriers that jargon and technical language create between Bitcoin and potential users, and has written on the subject for the New York Times, Coin Desk, and Bitcoin Magazine, among others.
There’s also Elizabeth Rossiello, of BitPesa, Cindy McAdam, former president of Bitcoin wallet company, Xapo, and the executive director of BitGive (a charity company), Connie Gallippi.
Research indicates that women get into Bitcoin for the same reasons as men - because it’s an emerging technology; because it’s cool and different, or because there are genuine opportunities to do something special or unique. It's also sufficiently popular now that women may simply enjoy using Bitcoin in their day-to-day lives. Everything from coffee ships to casino websites now accept the currency as a payment option, with BitcoinPokies, for example, listing only casinos that accept Bitcoin for their games.
Bitcoin may never shed its male dominance, perhaps because it began life as the archetypical geeky, underworld hobby, but the currency could be an ideal jumping-on point for women interested in technology in general. Let’s face it, with such a severe gender split, the onus is now on Bitcoin’s leaders to attract women to the industry before it goes mainstream.