Long gone are the days when women played a back-seat role on Wall-Street, or in investments as a whole. Since 2009, the birth of Bitcoin has made financial investment more accessible, not just for the few, but for all. Women, as much as men, are curious to understand crypto and are ready to invest.
In our traditional system, there are countless challenges alongside levelling the investment playing field and achieving financial freedom. In 2020, the national gender pay gap in the United States was roughly 18%, with not a single US state paying females higher than males (on average). This resulted in increased difficulties for women attempting to build their 401k’s and plan for retirement in a way as effectively as men could. Due to the large disparities in active income, more women are looking for ways to invest in forms of passive income…cue cryptocurrencies.
How Crypto Supports Females
Decentralised finance allows for transactions to occur without passing through a third-party intermediary, granting individuals complete control and freedom over their own assets. This not only increases efficiency and affordability but provides a sense of security that is often overshadowed when interacting with third-party sources. Gemini conducted a survey that found among those planning to invest in crypto, 40% are women. Additionally, 39% of millennial women would be more interested in crypto if they knew it could make finance more accessible. Proving the intense need for women to feel empowered by their financial options and decisions.
Women in Crypto
Stats published by eToro showed only 15% of Bitcoin investors were women, however, this number had increased from 10% in 2020. Though only a small increase, this does show more women are becoming investors and this could be in part to the influence of women like Elizabeth Stark, and Katie Haun.
Elizabeth Stark redefined the cryptocurrency marketplace for women. This double-ivy league graduate co-founded the company Lightning Labs in 2016, a “second layer” protocol that helps run the blockchain more efficiently. One of Stark’s famous quotes is “Welcome to Bitcoin, you can’t tell people what to do.”
When speaking to Karen Hao of Quartz, Stark said “The perception that there are no women in bitcoin discourages women from getting involved.”
Katie Haun, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz was introduced to Bitcoin in the currency’s early days, utilising blockchain’s capabilities to investigate criminal activity. Haun was interviewed by Grace Hong from Business Today, where she was asked about how she got involved in crypto: “I was looking for something different, away from violent and organised crime, so my chief asked me to work on Bitcoin. I quickly realised it wasn’t something that could be prosecuted—that would be akin to saying ‘Let’s prosecute the internet’ or ‘Let’s prosecute cash.’ It’s not possible nor desirable. Instead, I set about looking at some of the cases that involved nefarious uses of cryptocurrencies.”
Haun then went on to tell Hong about the crypto task force she created in the Department of Justice, “I realised there’s a real need for bridges to be built between the crypto ecosystem on one hand, and the government, policymakers, and regulators, on the other hand. We discussed it within the Justice Department and decided we would create a task force in San Francisco.
“One purpose of the task force was to bring and investigate cases involving criminal uses of cryptocurrency. Another very important purpose was to help educate and facilitate understanding on all ends: government regulators, technologists, developers, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders in the crypto ecosystem. There was a liaison function and mutual cooperation.
“A third purpose was having a point of contact—a lot of times, the government’s first line of defence against the criminals in the community would be the people at crypto companies, and naturally, crypto companies also wanted a point of contact to go to. And finally, the task force was the training ground to keep prosecutors and other government agents up to speed with developments in the sector.”
Flashforward a decade and Haun is serving as an independent director on the board for the billion-dollar company, Coinbase. Her crypto advice reads, “Don’t let yourself think ‘Oh, it’s too complex, I don’t want to go dive deep in it.’ You don’t need to dive deep into it, just go learn something about it that you didn’t know.” Haun encourages all individuals to be patient with the crypto space as it is ever-changing and evolving. Having seen the success that Haun has had, it is likely many more women will be inspired to get involved in crypto.