How Can We Get More Women to be a Part of the Blockchain Disruption?
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From financial services to the healthcare sector and logistics to pharmaceutical, the ecosystem cannot stop bragging about how important is blockchain technology for the world. Every other big fish out there has collaborated with a smaller one to pilot its project and adopt the technology. In fact, according to experts, 2019 is the year where we will some ‘actual’ action in this space. But in haste to ace it, is the industry missing out on something really important?
If you are wondering what – well the answer is obvious. Women are missing out all the tech-action. Even in India, we have witnessed no more than a handful of women-led blockchain startups in the country.
So, what is holding them back? In a conversation with Entrepreneur India, shepreneurs and senior executives from the blockchain industry share their experience working in the space.
Building the New Age
Presently, blockchain is one of the most exciting technologies around us and women are as excited as men to be part of this disruption.
Take an example of Nitika Goel, CTO, Somish (GovBlocks) who got her hands on blockchain when the company was developing an app using the technology to financially include the unbanked. The company was adjudged as the winners of the London Blockchain Week 2017 Hackathon, out of the 25 teams participating in it.
She says the event opened up a flurry of enquiries right from Fortune 500’s to governments to startups from all over the world, wanting the company to help them build blockchain applications.
“The learning curve grew steeper with each project we worked on. I’ve got the opportunity to work on several use cases, ranging from the energy sector to insurance to proactive governance. With every use case, I have seen the tremendous potential of blockchain to disrupt the existing business models via disintermediation,” she shared.
The same enthusiasm echoes with other women working in the same field. In fact, Prachi Acharekar, Director India - VP Operations of MonetaGo, one of the first few blockchain companies to run a live platform, feels this is just the beginning of a long journey.
“People forget that it took credit cards decades to go from their initial introduction to the ubiquitous product they are today, but the impact of this technology at full scale will be far greater,” she added.
Bridging the Gap
Having said that, we cannot ignore the gender gap in the industry. Recently, LongHash looked at the most recent 100 blockchain startups listed as ‘upcoming’ by ICO tracking site ICO Rating and tracked the gender gap in three sections – gender balance in the team, women at the executive level and women on advisory boards.And honestly, the numbers are heartbreaking.
Of the 1,062 people working at these 100 blockchain companies, only 14.5 per cent were women. On the other side, 7 per cent of the 326 startup’s senior executives are women. For advisors, that number was not more than 8 per cent of 473. These numbers clearly show there is a huge gender gap in the industry, which needs to address while it is still at its nascent stage. While apart from the major gender stereotype that women are not so good at tech, which by the have been proven wrong, there is a lack of role models in the field.
Commenting on the gap, Shinam Arora, Co-Founder, Primechain Technologies says women are used to looking up to someone who has achieved goals which drives them to work towards it.“It needs to start at the grass root level. As Mahatma Gandhi rightly said ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ So we have to take the charge and be a role model for the others. We need to be able to guide and mentor them ‘If I can you can’,” she explained.
Even Goel’s opinions align with Arora as she has seen the growth of impact that women have had in this field. According to her, some of the most promising projects in the blockchain space are being run by strong and independent women.
“I remember that initially, whenever I attended a conference/seminar on the blockchain, I always felt that participation of women was fairly low but the situation has drastically improved over time. I have a very positive and optimistic outlook about the increasing contribution of women in the world of the blockchain,” she pointed out.