The Future of Blockchain is Female: Tech Evangelist Praises Role of Women
“This is definitely the coolest job title I have ever had,” says Rachel Black, Tech Evangelist and spokesperson at Lisk, a blockchain application platform with the mission to bring blockchain technology to the mainstream.
For Black, the road to blockchain began with a degree in geography from the University of Cambridge in 2007, followed by positions in web development, programming, design and content development at companies including React and Node.
Based in Berlin, Black joined the Switzerland-based Lisk in August 2018, more than two years after the Lisk Foundation raised over 14,000 Bitcoins during its initial coin offering in March 2016.
“Women are under-represented in tech in Europe as well , not just in the U.S.,” says Black. “So it is a really great time for women to get into blockchain as it is still in its infancy.”
Breaking into the tech niche can happen with meetups in major cities, Black says, where you can have conversations and understand what the key themes are. There are women in blockchain and women in tech meetups in these urban areas, she says, and outside of these areas, there are many online chat rooms for women in tech, she says.
“Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that has the potential to transform many industries and the way we do business, but doing so will require divergent thinking, different perspectives, creativity and the ability to innovate, all of which, research shows time and time again, are driven by diversity – gender included,” writes Dr. Jemma Green in Forbes.
“Many in the industry recognize this power of diversity.
Marie Wieck, General Manager at IBM Blockchain believes that, ‘when you get interdisciplinary engagement and skills and people who have come from different backgrounds, that really does create an innovation sandbox,’” Green writes.
Black’s advice for women who want to break in early in a career or even in a career switch, is to build a network.
“It is a good to have people you can speak to so you can get a sounding board, and who can help you take the steps to there,” Black says.
If you want to dip into blockchain, to see if it is a career area you want to pursue, Black says to “find something in your role inside your company so it can be a stepping stone to where you want go next.”
In blockchain technology, Black says there are new roles opening up, and “as the technology becomes more available, all kinds of jobs are opening up that you may not know about.”
She suggests “educating yourself in recent developments and understand what kind of industries use it, and where your skillset can align with it.”
“The barriers to entry are mostly about perception, according to Emilie Choi. The former vice president and head of corporate development at LinkedIn joined Coinbase in March 2018, moving from the professional networking platform’s staff of over 13,000 to a startup with less than 500,” writes Lydia Dishman in Fast Company.
“It is intimidating for outsiders to think about the crypto world,” Choi tells Fast Company. “Not only that it’s a man’s world, Choi explains, but that media coverage around price volatility of virtual currency, ‘and the antics of certain personalities,’ reinforce the crypto/blockchain bro myth versus reality. This Choi states, is ‘erroneous,’” Dishman writes.
Because blockchain is still in its infancy and women have the potential for great influence in the industry, Black says, “It is typical for women to struggle with how you can make your voice heard when you have an idea, and not coming across as bossy or second guessing yourself.”
A December blockchain event, Hard Fork Decentralized, aims to address the role of women in the industry, according to AltCoinBuzz.
“The blockchain industry has become more aware of its lack of diversity, and we’re beginning to move in the right direction to tackle the issue. At Hard Fork Decentralized, our blockchain and cryptocurrency event, we want to help by making sure that all voices are equally heard,” writes The next web.
With the goal of gender inclusion, new initiatives are possible globally in blockchain.
Women are also serving as pioneers applying cryptocurrency to real world transactions.
Even with the hype of cryptocurrencies never ending, the digital money still faces many problems when it comes to mainstream uses. The Crypto Realty Group, a real estate company that helps people buy and sell properties with cryptocurrency, according to Coin Announcer.
Piper Moretti is the founder and CEO of The Crypto Realty Group, based in Los Angeles. The first of its kind, “the firm specializes in conducting real estate transactions with blockchain-based cryptocurrencies,” Coin announcer reports.
Black says the role of women and the opportunities for women are growing in blockchain.
“The longer you are in an industry or company, the more confidence you have in your knowledge,” Black says. “Some things you don’t know as a junior developer, and you can feel defeated by that. But I realize that is the part of the power of not knowing. You have the benefit of asking questions and saying you don’t know.”
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldonwww.micheleweldon.com