Real Money and Real Opportunity: The Impact of the Cryptocurrency Gender Gap

If you have been treating Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and block chain as background noise, it may be time to pay attention. This new form of financing is changing the way everyone lives, works, plays and donates—and a gender gap has already formed in who is benefitting from its rise.

2015’s Coinbase study showed that 90 percent of investors in Cryptocurrency were men. Forbes reported, for the first time ever, the richest people in cryptocurrency in February—a list that included 20 men and no women with at least $350 million in net worth. Coin Dance, which tracked Bitcoin Community Engagement by Gender, reported that engagement was 95 percent male as of this month. The upcoming BlockShow Europe 2018 in Berlin later this month, which boasts more than 3,000 participants, has 73 experts listed as speaking online; only 13 are women.

Still, notable innovative women are thriving in the cryptocurrency space. Tina Hui, CEO and founder at Follow The Coin and Brit Morin, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur in block chain, recently hosted a cryptocurrency event for 500 women attendees and live-streamed to another 16,000. A group in New York City called Women in Blockchain boasts more than 1,900 members. Coinreveiws listed 24 women in blockchain/crypto to follow in 2018. A 2017 survey by Myetherwaller showed that women make up 16 percent of traders on their site.

Women’s participation appears to be growing, but still a long way off from parity—and as possibilities in this realm grow, that means they’re missing out on myriad economic opportunities. The block chain backbone is changing the way we use global currency.

A new movie, “Lamborghini,” starring Antonio Banderas as car designer Ferruccio Lamborghini and Alec Baldwin as rival Enzo Ferrari for the first time will be financed by crypto currency. It will be co-produced through a blockchain based social entertainment platform that rewards viewers.

Two recent philanthropic gifts generated by cryptocurrency wealth also manifested into real cash. The Pineapple Fund, which plans to donate $86 million worth of Bitcoin, was launched by an anonymous donor who claims to be one of the 250 largest holders of the currency worldwide; a $1 million dollar gift was made to BitGive Foundation, which accepts donations in Bitcoin and uses block chain technology to trace transactions on a public platform in real time to show donors how funds are spent and ensure they reach their final destination. And the Chronicle of Philanthropy recently reported that a sole donor—Ripple, a cryptocurrency company—had fulfilled over 35,000 requests on DonorsChose, totaling $29 million in the cryptocurrency XRP, from teachers who needed money to cover expenses for their classrooms, marking the largest gift in the 18-year history of the platform with an impact that will be felt at one in six public schools nationwide.

Currency is the first application at the start of the economic transformation to disrupt how we use and manage ownership of assets, identity and much more—and gender diversity in cryptocurrency could result in more overall investments in causes affecting women and girls.

A more equitable cryptocurrency space and gender parity in block chain can drive solutions to  benefit women as part of the greatest wealth generator in the next decade. You can bet on it.

Cynthia Yung is Executive Director of The Boone Family Foundation and a Public Voices Fellow through The OpEd Project.

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