The ‘crypto bro’ mentality overshadows the achievements of women in the industry
A conversation with Katrina Donaghy
On the outside, the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain appears to be a big tech ‘boys club’ firmly guarded by male gatekeepers. This is an easy assumption to make and will often lead to the question “why aren’t more women in crypto?”
Our answer to that: Look around, women aren’t just involved in crypto, they are leading it.
Katrina Donaghy is the Co-founder and CEO of Civic Ledger and the founder of the Women in Blockchain Australia chapter. She said to assume there is uneven representation between men and women across the crypto, blockchain and NFT industry is a mentality that needs to stay in 2018.
“In Australia, our largest crypto exchange, BTC Markets, is led by a woman, the first listed blockchain company, DigitalX is led by a woman, one of the largest blockchain companies in the world, Everledger, is founded and led by a woman. Additionally, the TC 307 Blockchain Standards is led by a woman, and for the past two Blockchain Australia Industry Awards, women have been awarded as “Blockchain Leader of the Year,” Donaghy said.
Recent reports have also shown a surge in female users across cryptocurrency exchange platforms. In April last year, one in four customers who traded on Robinhood Markets Inc. identified as a woman according to COO of Robinhood Crypto, Christine Brown, to the Wall Street Journal. In December of 2020, Bitcoin fund operator Grayscale revealed 43 per cent of investors interested in BTC were women.
Donaghy said back when she first entered the industry in 2015, blockchain technology was still emerging and it was hard to label the space as male-dominated because there was no “space.”
“We built communities through the meetups that were springing up all around the world which were inclusive. Things started to change when we went through the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) craze and the first crypto bull run – once money – stupid money – came to the ecosystem, then we saw the division between ‘blockchain’ and ‘crypto’ and a new narrative emerged saying women were invisible,” Donaghy said.
“For those who were at Consensus [crypto conference] in 2017 remember the dancing girls, the trolling, the booth babes, the ‘manels’, the parties that objectified women. Stupid money, crypto bros, egos. Then there were articles coming out saying that women didn’t exist, that we couldn’t be seen. Well, these writers didn’t see the power unleashed as women in the industry began self-organising themselves and meetups were set up all over the world,” she continued.
As the founder of the Australian chapter of the Women in Blockchain movement, Donaghy holds monthly gatherings for women from across the nation to gain critical insights and share in the experiences of women leading within the Australian blockchain ecosystem.
While women are actively playing a huge role in moving the industry forward, Donaghy says more could be done to make the space more inclusive.
“I think the last area in crypto that still need significant changes in improving representation is at the Board – both governance and advisory – level. It is rather bizarre that in 2022 blockchain/crypto start-ups that are raising obscene amounts of money, have only blokes on their Websites. Wall to wall blokes. Surely, they must see that this is a problem? Surely investors should be asking the question ‘where is the diversity?” Donaghy said.
“I hope the narrative shifts from “where are all the women?’ to ‘look at all the diversity building the next Internet that is fairer, more secure, and easier to access – for everyone!” she said.