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The advances in blockchain technology and the increasing adoption of cryptocurrencies have enabled people to cooperate and interact decentralized and equally. Blockchain removes several constraints, promoting a borderless and open society.
Nevertheless, just like the early days of the tech industry, the blockchain space is still heavily dominated by men. Yet, cryptocurrencies and blockchain by default have the highest chances of creating a more equal environment for both men and women, by closing the gender gap and providing equal income opportunities.
Inspire the next generation of blockchain pioneers
To inspire women to participate in the blockchain revolution, we at HYVE have launched the Women in Crypto campaign to answer any potential questions for newcomers - and there is no better time than International Women’s Month!
We have devised a set of five questions, targeting four trendsetters from the blockchain space, coming from diverse backgrounds. We aimed to learn more about their journey and experience, including achievements and hardships, but most importantly, stories that would inspire women to learn more about crypto. So get ready and buckle up for some honest and exciting perspectives, which will convince you to create your own success story!
Q1: When and under what circumstances did you learn about crypto?
Some have learned about crypto simply by having first-hand experience with the technology, this happening in the cases of Ioana Frincu and Bianca Buzea. Ioana Frincu started in 2016 when she learned about blockchain from a friend. She proceeded to write a smart contract, followed by a Whitepaper. Ioana has been working on the EQIFi, as the CTO of the project.
Bianca Buzea, Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS), first discovered blockchain in 2017, from a friend who had a mining rig. Ioana was studying Computer Science back then - “I was looking for a niche to specialize in. I realized the potential that this technology has and I decided that blockchain technology will be my niche!”
Lisa Wade is an ex-trader, currently, CEO of Digital X. She also found out from a friend of hers back in the early days, however, she was skeptical of the whole phenomenon. “I was like most people, and it took a few goes for it to sink in - I dismissed it because there was limited supply, then someone very smart listened patiently to my argument and said, oh do you know it is infinitely divisible - and that was when I know there was something to it - from that moment I began paying attention.”
As ETH emerged, Lisa saw what potential tokenizing of real assets could have for funding algorithms, and she realized digital securities were the future.
“I have not looked back from that moment and dedicated my career to re-shaping finance - I am an impact investor at heart and we can do a LOT of good re-building finance from the good up.”
An entrepreneur at heart, with multi-year experience, Lavinia Osbourne used to run financial wellbeing consultancy which focused on empowering women in their relationship with money. “When you do work like this you find that people will touch on the past, present, and future of money; blockchain is the future of money, as well as work and business.”
She started to hear more and more about crypto, blockchain, and Bitcoin, raising her interest in the industry. “I saw it for what it was, which is an opportunity to share some of the world’s wealth and save money from going through a middle person.” Lavinia is currently working on two projects, Women in Blockchain Talks & Crypto Kweens.
Q2: What is your biggest achievement that you are proud of in this industry?
This question was probably our favorite since it shows the diversity within the blockchain space - no answer is similar to the other. “I am proud of every project my team and I have delivered over the years, but some of the biggest ones are EQIFi, the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange platform, and the COSS exchange in Singapore.” says Ioana, highlighting the variety and unicity of every project and assignment.
“My biggest achievement in the space is that I found a place where I can do what I enjoy the most, teaching! When I was a child I wanted to become a teacher, like my mother. However, I soon realized that the current educational system is broken and that we need alternative ways to teach people.”
Bianca later adds “Blockchain technology and crypto allowed me to teach others, whether through my blog posts, Youtube podcast, or more recently through a crypto course that I have designed specifically for women, to empower women to be bold with their investments and celebrate International Women’s Day!”
For Lisa, the main achievement is hard to pick, since most of the work performed was behind the scenes - “The effort behind the scenes to bring project Atom to life it was such a huge collaboration, and herding all the cats were very very hard and there was more than one moment all seemed lost”.
Furthermore, Lisa has loads of projects to be proud of “building Neomi as well was an achievement I think I’ll look back on proudly; impact investing has a long way to go and is a patience game that I know will create great impact investment opportunities that in hindsight will seem obvious”.
Lavinia is grateful and proud of the vibrant and nurturing community she has managed to build through Women in Blockchain Talks (or WiBT). “We are on a mission to bring in 50k women in Blockchain by 2023 via our quiz. We are also organizing the first-ever Women in Blockchain Conference (retreat) in Cyprus in September 2023. We want women’s voices to be seen and felt throughout the conference, as well as outside it! It is going to be epic! And it will make a difference.”
Q3: What was the hardship that you had to face in crypto?
Such great achievements wouldn’t have been possible without experiencing several hardships. Yet, hardships shouldn’t be a deterrent and represent valuable lessons that can set you on a path towards success. Here is how you can learn even from situations that seem unsolvable.
“I think every new field is a bit chaotic at the beginning and one of the challenges I faced was mixing blockchain with other technologies and programming languages, especially in the early days”
Ioana claims that starting a project from scratch was much more difficult back in the day, at least from a technical perspective. Nowadays, thanks to the evolution in technology and ecosystem development, starting a project is a lot easier.
For Bianca, finding the right community, or her “tribe” as she calls it, was a struggle in the beginning, since exploring the blockchain space with other like-minded individuals is a lot more exciting. “It can be a bit daunting as a solo journey. It took me some time before I found my tribe in the space, but now I am extremely grateful and proud of the people I got by my side.”
Lisa has a positive outlook when looking at hardships, as she always looks on the bright side. “I had hardships in impact investing so crypto I take with full belief and shake off the naysayers - they’ll be our biggest fans one day - and of course, I have had projects killed and yes that hurts so massively”. She says that it all depends on how resilient you are. “and you know, changing the names of projects and then having them get over the line of funny!”
Building such a sprawling community as Lavinia did does not come at a small cost, meaning that you also have to be constantly in the loop with everything occurring at a very high pace in the crypto world. “The learning curve brought on by building WiBT has been immense but also very rewarding. Many times, because the blockchain space moves very quickly, you can get caught up in the overwhelming feeling of ‘FOMO’.”
Q4: Do you see any difference between how men and women are treated when it comes to crypto?
The answers provided to this question were quite universal, with the common finding that “the space is still heavily male-dominated”. “I don’t think it is a question of how men and women are treated differently but about accessing the barrier to entry”, says Lavinia, claiming that the blockchain space is geared towards the mannerisms of men, meaning that women will be less comfortable when entering.
“In general, there is still a great divide in business especially finance and technology - the number of times I have been “mansplained” in meetings is immeasurable - it has taught me a lot because if I point it out I become like them so I find having a healthy sense of humor is a great equalizer“, says Lisa.
Truth be told, the crypto world has had a “bro culture” stigma associated with it, but this has been changing recently. Nevertheless, there is enough room for improvement, rightfully considers Lavinia “When you add this to the mix and that only 5% of NFT sales were made by women last year”
As Bianca sees it, an increasing number of women communities are emerging and more females are onboarding. She believes that women tend to be more cautious overall, compared to men, thus more risk-averse. “However, once they find their communities and they start to navigate the space, women become amazing leaders!”
Lisa takes it a step further, strongly believing that more women should be involved in a wider array of fields. “You’ll see me very actively pushing for STEM scholarships and programs from all angles of inclusion - LGBTI, women, people with a disability, indigenous, the under-served in general - there is a lot of double wins we can bring to the world Re-shaping equality in business.”
Q5: What is your message for women that want to join the crypto space?
“Just start!”, says Bianca, “Take a course, learn about the space, become part of a community with a similar interest, go to meetups, immerse yourself into the space and you will see amazing results.” This message is reinforced by all the other participants. “Be Bold, Be Brave in Blockchain” as Lavinia puts it.
“This is an opportunity to close the gender gap from the FRONT rather than behind [...] Join a community that can support your endeavors and journey; give you a safe place to grow and cheer you on as you do it!”
Joining the blockchain space does not require tech skills - you just need passion and a constant desire for self-improvement. “Find what you love, your gift to the world, and bring it to crypto - you don’t need to be a coder - just get amongst it - having purpose is my key driver - so figure out what your purpose in the world is first and then be fearless and jump into the crypto deep end” claims Lisa.
The thought is reinforced by Ioana, who also remarks that community is key in finding your place in this difficult yet enticing crypto world - “Learn, find a community in which you meet like-minded individuals and work hard. Nothing beats hard work!”
Web 3.0 has created immense opportunities for everyone, with women able to generate an amazing impact and be part of something greater. “Web3.0 is our future”, says Lisa, with Lavinia adding even more “Help create more gender equity in web 3.0!”
“Here is a great Sioux Indianan saying Joseph Campbell quotes to paraphrase ~as you go the way of life there is a great chasm, jump, it’s not as wide as you think.” - Lisa Wade
It is pretty clear now that it is never too late to venture out into crypto. All the stories point out how the community aspect is vital within the blockchain space. HYVE has created the perfect collaborative environment, even for people with no prior crypto experience, thus it is the perfect place to start your crypto journey. Come explore now!
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