Soon it will be International Women’s Day. A good time to reflect on how their representation in the crypto world and fintech is doing. Spoiler: we’re not quite there yet.
One detail that often immediately stands out in the crypto world is the fact that it consists almost exclusively of men. It’s a hard truth, but cryptocurrency is and remains a man’s world in 2022. Does this mean there are no women in the cryptocurrency industry? CoinText set out to find the top 25 most influential women in the industry.
1. Cathie Wood
Cathie Wood is best known as the Chief Executive & Investment Officer at the American investment house Ark Invest. As an ETF manager, Wood is jointly responsible for buying and selling shares within the ETFs of Ark Invest. She leads the development of ARK’s philosophy and investment approach and has ultimate responsibility for investment decisions.
With over 40 years of experience identifying and investing in innovation, she founded ARK to focus solely on disruptive innovation while adding new dimensions to research. Through an open approach that cuts across sectors, market caps and regions, Wood believes ARK can identify large-scale investment opportunities in public markets arising from technological innovations around DNA sequencing, robotics, artificial intelligence, energy storage and blockchain technology.
2. Kelly Loeffler
Kelly Lynn Loeffler is an American Republican Party executive and politician. Additionally, she’s the CEO of Bakkt Bitcoin Futures, ICE’s digital assets platform. This company says it will use Microsoft’s cloud solutions to enable retail customers to buy, hold and spend cryptocurrencies on a global network.
3. Christine Lagarde
Christine Lagarde has been president of the ECB since 2019. Before that, she was director of the IMF from 2011 to 2019. In France, she served as Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry in the centre-right cabinet let by François Fillon from 2007 until 2011.
4. Laura Shin
Laura Shin is a renowned journalist specializing in cryptocurrency. Shin covers topics such as blockchain, cryptocurrencies and fintech in her articles. In addition, in 2016 she won the blockchain award in the category ‘most insightful journalist’. Previously, we find that Laura worked at Forbes, where she was the first mainstream reporter to scrutinize digital currencies.
She has also worked for Newsweek, Wall Street and The New York Times. Today, Shin is the producer of the podcast ”Unchained” and ”Unconfirmed”. In this podcast, Laura receives several guests to gain more insight into the world of cryptocurrency. Shin is currently working on numerous books on crypto.
5. Lyn Alden
Lyn Alden is a macro analyst who explores flexible investment strategies through the eyes of an engineer having published a number of books on the topic, as well as the founder of Lyn Alden Investment Strategy.
Alden has an outspoken view on the role of bitcoin and gold within an investment portfolio. She has always been very interested in Bitcoin’s design and technology, and published a report on Bitcoin’s price development for the coming years.
Other noteworthy mentions
Kathleen Breitman is one of the most influential women in the crypto community. She quickly made a career for herself and definitely established her name as one of the founders of Tezos (XTZ).
Women may play a less prominent role in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, but that is only a matter of time. That is a favourable development, after all, it is women who point out to men the need for evolution. Both the male and female perspective must be taken into account. Of course, this is only possible if there are enough women in a company in influential positions, and those discussed here are paving the way for more female involvement.
CoinText spoke with two prominent women in the industry; Anna Stone, Director of CSR at eToro and Heide Heidi Pease, Head of Investment Products at Wave Financial, to chat about their view on the state of female representation in FinTech.
How did you as a woman get involved in FinTech? What’s your journey and what challenges have you faced along the way, how did you overcome them, and what can other women with ambition learn from you?
Anna: For me, it has never been about being a woman in Fintech. I have always been guided by the question, “what types of the world’s problems do I want to solve?” In both undergrad and graduate school, I studied economics, and realized that economies are based upon the skills of building belief in communities and mobilizing towards a cause (much like the Fintech space.) I started my career in non-profit, but quickly came to the understanding that the philanthropic model is no response to the systemic challenges that face our world. Working towards a more equitable and inclusive world steered me towards the world of money. To the future female leaders of this space, I urge you to always move in the direction of your purpose and work on the core issues that are meaningful to you.
Heidi: My startup, HomeSidekick, aimed to provide more transparency, immediacy, and immutability to the opaque mortgage backed securities, providing peer-to-peer direct lending to ultimately disintermediate banks with software, and in 2016 we pivoted into blockchain after learning the protocol provides these exact solutions. As I’m sure you can imagine, having no technical background and with limited resources available, it took time to navigate through engineering terms and grasp the potential of the technology. Once I had my “aha moment” and truly understood the potential of blockchain, I was hooked as I realized the technology could change the world for the better and democratize accessibility to wealth for all people around the world.
Back in 2016, the ecosystem was severely underdeveloped despite the potential of the technology, so I started the “Blockchain at UCLA” program with faculty, alumni, and students. Shortly thereafter, I founded the LA Blockchain Lab, a partnership of SoCal research universities, government entities, and large enterprises to help build awareness of the technology – we were fortunate to enable university teams to advise on world-class companies such as Panasonic and Lamborghini. Subsequently, I’ve been invited to speak all around the world evangelizing the power and potential of blockchain.
The fintech industry seems to be very male-dominated. What do you think about the lack of inclusion of women in the crypto space?
Anna: The fintech industry is built on the promise of constructing a new, more equitable and more inclusive financial system. To do that we need a new, more equitable, more inclusive group of people – which unlike the foundation of the traditional finance system, must include more women. Economics and technology have historically been male-dominated, and crypto takes everything that isn’t easily understand about economics and matches it with everything that isn’t easily understand about technology. That said, I’m optimistic for the future of the industry given the strides that have been made in the past year by educational groups specifically focused on bringing women into the space.
Heidi: When I first entered the crypto space,discussions often focused on the social impact blockchain could offer in addition to speculation around potential earnings from bitcoin. In the beginning, there was a robust community of women excited about the space as well as a community of men supporting women,but unfortunately, as the ecosystem matured and more traditional finance experts entered the space, at a macro level I am seeing fewer female participants in comparison to male counterparts. It’s as though the archaic elements of the old world and legacy practices are smudging the shiny potential of a more equitable society.
Cryptocurrency and digital assets in many ways are transforming accessibility to wealth for all people, but unfortunately the tremendous wealth accumulation has almost entirely been with men. As a woman it is painful to witness this disparity, and I call on all women to learn about digital assets to avoid being left behind and, perhaps more importantly, to seize the opportunity to become transformative leaders within this new space.
There are some very influential women helping the industry move forward, yet it seems like they don’t get the same kind of exposure and recognition men do – what’s your thoughts on this, and how could we become more inclusive?
Anna: Over the past three to six months alone, there’s been an emergence of education and activation focused groups that prioritize mobilizing women into this space. When I first started there was nowhere to turn to for educational materials nor was there a sense of community. This educational movement has been instrumental in demolishing the narrative that fintech is “too complex”. We will become more inclusive by using approachable, easily digestible language to emphasize that there is room for everyone here.
Heidi: The digital asset community skews to younger people who are in many ways building a fresh ecosystem and looking to shed archaic customs and systems, and there have been early and concerted efforts to engage and empower women. For example, I’ve seen high-profile conference planners intentionally seek female presenters to provide more comprehensive discussions,and many more women are participating and innovating in the NFT space. As the ecosystem “grows up” and traditional financial players enter the space, so do outdated biases – I remain hopeful that the younger generations will continue to push back and that the financial “grown-ups” will embrace this new world intended to be distributed and decentralized.
What kind of challenges do women face in the industry?
Anna: The core challenge is not an industry issue, but rather a cultural issue that women have been raised to not talk about money. It takes bold, confident women to step into a space that has historically been for men, not only in industry but in life as a whole. Recently, eToro completed a study of female investors that showed the number one way to get more women investing is (not surprisingly) to show other women investing. Representation is key, especially in this space that has been historically a ‘boys club.’
Heidi: New crypto and blockchain job opportunities are abundant, and expertise is highly sought across vast subjects such as trading, business development, marketing, and especially engineering and community building.For women interested in entering the crypto and tech spaces, I recommend supplementing existing expertise by learning about blockchain through certified courses, free online resources, crypto exchanges, etc. At this time, a little blockchain awareness coupled with subject matter expertise goes a long way in securing a job and breaking into the industry.
Are there any initiatives you know of that are helping women join the industry and/or advance when joined?
Anna: Some great initiatives are Boys Club, Ladies Get Paid, BFF and SheF, which are all doing fantastic work in mobilizing women into the space.
What do you believe the future of women in crypto and blockchain will be in the next few years?
Anna: Mobilizing women is the only way to bring crypto mass adoption. If fintech truly wants to build a more fair and inclusive financial system than the founding group of that system must be reflective of fairness and equality as well. Today I am more optimistic about the industry than ever before, but this mission cannot be complete without women.