Move over, crypto bros. Making space for women in crypto
Crypto’s gender gap runs deep. Men are more than two times more likely to have invested, traded, or used cryptocurrency than women (22% vs 10%). Many reasons contribute to the underrepresentation of women in the crypto space. Crypto can be daunting for a newbie. There’s so much content about it and so much to learn, it can be hard to figure out where or how to start. It’s easy for women to feel like it’s too late in a space that’s already crowded and dominated by men, sometimes called “crypto bros,” the new, louder version of the tech bro.
It’s important to note, crypto is a relatively new phenomenon. Even the loudest crypto bros have only been investing in crypto for a few years. You can continue to learn more and more about it every day. The Alloy #crypto Slack channel has been a huge resource for my learning. When I joined it, I noticed one thing right away: the channel, which is one of Alloy’s most active Slack channels, is a lot more active among men than women or gender non-conforming folks.
Just because men seem to be the early adopters in the very new crypto space does not mean it needs to remain that way. For Women’s History Month, the Alloy DEI Committee and Learning & Development team hosted a fireside chat with three of Alloy’s crypto experts Lakshmi Subbramanian, Annie Hua, and Kristina Tubera and guest panelists Bee Davies and Kitty Grier from NFT Girl Gang.
The event started with a Crypto 101 lesson to get everyone on the same page and offer some entry tips to newbies. Then the panelists had an open dialogue about what it’s like to be a woman in crypto, why they think the gender gap is so prevalent, and their tips for women and transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) folks to get started. Here are some takeaways from the event.
You’re not too late
“I come from a traditional finance background, and there’s a lot of gatekeeping. Everyone drops lingos and acronyms and they expect people not to know what they mean, or they don’t want them to know. I think the great thing about being in the NFT or crypto space is that it’s much more inclusive for new people to learn. Instead of having that gatekeeping strategy that traditional finance has, crypto is more inclusive with sharing knowledge and capabilities.” - Kristina Tubera
“We’re so early in the crypto and web3 space, there’s tons of room for new joiners.” - Annie Hua
Ask your friends for help - and bring friends and family into the space with you as you get more knowledgeable
“When I first got into crypto, I was on Clubhouse for hours and hours during COVID with my friends. We were just asking silly questions. Like, ‘how do I set up a wallet?’ ‘What is Metamask?’ It’s a very interesting process. Things have gotten easier with Coinbase now, but it is still a little complicated at times and the best way to figure it out is to have a friend that you can call and ask those questions to or call when you’re scared. A lot of us don’t have that friend, and that’s why I created NFT Girl Gang and have been going to crypto conferences and providing a space where we can all talk about crypto and ask questions.” - Kitty Grier
“Crypto is never boring, because it’s constantly changing. If you feel like you’re stuck somewhere, talk to us. There are lots of communities or meet-ups where you can ask pretty basic questions. Get your family members and friends into it with you. One of my goals for this year is to get my sister who is seven years younger into crypto. Hopefully she gets as excited as I am being in this space.” - Lakshmi Subbramanian
Advice for first steps into crypto
“Coinbase and Binance are super easy just to buy that first crypto. You don’t have to buy a lot. There’s a lot of things you can do, but I think the easiest way to get started is to make a Coinbase account with your credit card. Buy some ETH buy some Bitcoin and just get comfortable.” - Kitty Grier
“One of the things about crypto and NFTs that I think is preventing women from joining is that there’s so much out there that it can be overwhelming. I think one good first step is to find one piece of interest and then trying to learn more about it makes the space a lot easier. Outside of NFTs I would go to fashion shows for fun. My cousin brought me to an NFT event and I learned about the art space in NFTs. At one of these NFT events, I ran into Bee and she told me about the possibilities you could do with virtual production and fashion and that’s something that I just dove into.” - Annie Hua
“For me the easiest way to learn something is by doing. You could even take a photograph you have on your phone and mint that as an NFT. I suggest minting your own NFT, looking into different platforms, do trial and error. Dive right in. You don’t need to buy an expensive NFT, you can start small, mint your own, and go through that process.” - Bee Davies
“So many people are talking about crypto and web3 and are curious about it, but don’t know where to start. I started by understanding what decentralized finance meant and what decentralized applications meant. I invested through Coinbase and Robinhood, which really opened up the possibility for me to understand what it means to really diversify investing strategies. That’s where I started and I realized I really enjoy the community-driven approach to investing, so NFTs were the next step for me.” - Lakshmi Subbramanian
Women aren’t the only marginalized group being underrepresented in the crypto space
“This space reflects every other place in the world. People of color and trans people are more marginalized in this space just like they are in the rest of the world. I think some issues with the women’s right movement is that they just focused on white women. No. You need to start with the most marginalized folks and empower them and educate those communities. Especially in an industry that is creating a lot of wealth and has the power to bring a lot of disenfranchised folks into power. NFT Girl Gang, though we are called ‘girl gang,’ is inclusive to everyone: non-binary people, trans people, cisgender men and women, everyone is welcome. Our focus is to uplift those who need help the most, first.” - Bee Davies
“I love seeing founders of new communities have a push for marginalized groups and focusing on seeing where can we make a change in a place that’s really new. Cryptocurrency has given other people the opportunity to invest in places they never have before. If you think about traditional finance, you’d have to be a credited investor to even invest in something that could be a unicorn. Whereas with cryptocurrency anyone can invest in something that could be a “unicorn” in the space. So it’s really awesome to give opportunities to people who might not have that generational wealth, or the opportunities that their parents’ parents’ had before.” - Kristina Tubera
“With NFTs, you’re investing into a community, and if the Discords are filled with bots, and the twitter is filled with bots, and people are spamming you - that’s probably not a good sign. Another thing to look at is a whitepaper or a roadmap. Why would you invest in something if there’s not a future? That wouldn’t be an investment, that would be a gamble. Lastly, look at the team too. Who’s creating this project? Who’s backing this project? Have they worked on NFTs before? Do the research: check into the communities, believing in the project and the future, and understanding who’s behind the project and creating it.” - Kristina Tubera
“I’ve been going to a lot of in-person events and happy hours in the city. I’ve been meeting a lot of people behind a lot of different projects and getting to learn about their backgrounds. I try to stay on top of trends on Twitter and going to conferences and listening to talks is a great way to get (and stay) informed.” - Annie Hua
What it’s like being a female founder in the male-dominated space
“Growing up there were traditional gender norms in my house. My dad was an entrepreneur who took over his father’s business, but that type of scenario was never talked about with me. Being a queer person in this space and being a woman in this space, in this world, you see a lot of places where there’s inequality. I don’t want to sit around complaining, I’d rather make the change myself. So, based on my interests — fashion, entertainment — I created companies around that. So, I have my production company and virtual fashion. Before I started, my co-producer turned to me and said, ‘when are you going to quit and become your own boss?’ He was the first person to ever make me think I could do that. I think having someone say that to you is so important. Those are all the reasons I fell into being a founder and I want to use that to make change and empower others.” - Bee Davies
“I was so nervous to start this company on my own, and I felt like I had so much weight on my shoulders because there were not a lot women in crypto groups at the time. I was so overwhelmed by the amount of work that I felt like I needed to do, and then I found Bee and Hannah and they were so supportive and that’s really what got me going as a founder. It’s important to find a good support group and good friends that are there. And it’s the confidence, too, to be able to walk into a group full of men and say, ‘Hi, I’m Kitty and I’m a founder too.’ And I haven’t gotten that much pushback, I think people are excited to bring more women into the space.” - Kitty Grier
The enlightening panel session was followed by a crypto happy hour where many people stuck around to chat with the panelists about crypto. We’d like to thank all of our amazing speakers for sharing their experiences and helping the rest of us learn. Crypto may have a lot of enthusiastic male superfans, but there are a lot of active women in the space advocating for inclusion. For those of you that don’t already have that friend that you can ask all your crypto questions, our panelists put together a few resources for you below to check out.