Which group would you try to persuade to embrace BTC if you had the chance? Is that a whole country? Bond investors? Managers of family offices?
While many of these organizations would have a significant impact if, say, 5% of their population invested a portion of their assets in bitcoin, there is an even more important group to motivate: women.
A more humanitarian motivation to engage women sees financial and technological (fintech) literacy, of which Bitcoin is at the intersection, as a way to increase opportunities for women and their families, just as it does for anyone who adopts Bitcoin.
Whichever point of view you prefer, an important question to consider is how much you believe Bitcoin is the future.
If you think of bitcoin as just another financial asset with asymmetric upside potential, it’s unlikely that you care whether or not women use it on a large scale because you’ll get the financial gains you’re looking for whether or not they do.
If, on the other hand, you believe that Bitcoin represents the future in the same way that the internet did in the 1990s, you’ll want to encourage women to get ahead of the adoption curve in order to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.
Regardless of your point of view, it is critical that men reflect on their motivations because they will influence the culture we develop as Bitcoiners and thus will either empower or devalue women in the Bitcoin space.
““Like all sciences and all valuations, the psychology of women has hitherto been considered only from the point of view of men.”
–Karen Horney, a pioneer in the field of female psychology
AN EXISTING SOCIAL PROBLEM (BTC PERSPECTIVE)
You will almost certainly notice the lack of female-led companies, podcasts, and social media accounts if you spend enough time studying the BTC (and crypto) ecosystem.
When looking for high-quality content that is intentionally inclusive of women, the content waters are difficult to navigate. The unintentional, male-heavy connotations in a daily dose of Bitcoin-related content that an interested observer consumes are vast, in my experience. This is not the fault of anyone or the community as a whole. Instead, I believe it is a natural outcome of the majority of voices in the Bitcoin space being men.
As a thought exercise, consider the following questions about BTC Twitter:
- What percentage of those who indicate their gender are female?
- How many profiles identifying as women versus those identifying as men are there on the average Spaces that you join?
- How many anonymous accounts are operated by men and how many are operated by women?
Though the answers are impossible to know, the goal of this line of questioning is to get those who are willing, to be honest, to realize that women are underrepresented in Bitcoin. At the very least, this is true on the platform that is widely regarded as the best place to be in the Bitcoin ecosystem (no one is exchanging meta account names at Bitcoin conferences).
Is any of this really important? Yes. Why? Please continue reading to find out.
A WORLDWIDE PROBLEM
Let’s zoom out and look at the available research to see the symptoms of this condition more clearly before attempting to diagnose the cause. The following statistics demonstrate the consequences of a world in which women are marginalized and undervalued, particularly in the fintech sector. This will assist us in comprehending the macroeconomic context in which the phenomenon is taking place.
Consider this statistic: According to Forbes, 96 percent of women are either solely or jointly responsible for their families’ financial decisions. Take a moment to absorb that.
Why isn’t there a greater effort to engage half of the world’s population in light of this fact?
According to a CNBC and Acorn survey conducted in August 2021 in the United States, 16 percent of men and only 7% of women invest in cryptocurrency. According to coin.dance via google analytics, despite the fact that the number of women involved in the BTC community is higher now than at any time since its inception, there is still a 72 percent gender gap, with 86 percent men and 14 percent women involved in the Bitcoin community.
In Africa, the Statistic is even worse as Cryptocurrency gains popularity in the continent.
In the United States, the wage gap between men and women for full-time, year-round workers is 17.7%, with median annual earnings of $47,299 for women and $57,456 for men.
In the United States, for example, Black women are paid 37 percent less on average than their white male counterparts. Latinas in the United States are paid 45 percent less than white men and 30 percent less than white women, even when education and job roles are equal.
In developing countries, there is a 9% gender gap in the number of people with bank accounts, with men being more likely than women to have one.
Such information begs the question, “Why?” What are the reasons for these discrepancies?
Women have been oppressed all over the world since the beginning of recorded history.
““But sooner or later the oppressed class will argue that its superior virtue is a reason in favour of its having power, and the oppressors will find their own weapons turned against them. When at last power has been equalized, it becomes apparent to everybody that all the talk about superior virtue was nonsense, and that it was quite unnecessary as a basis for the claim to equality.”
― Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays
““Oppression is the inequitable use of authority, law, or physical force to prevent others from being free or equal… In much of the written literature of the ancient and medieval world, we have evidence of women’s oppression by men in European, Middle Eastern, and African cultures. Women did not have the same legal and political rights as men and were under control of fathers and husbands in almost all societies.”
According to feminist theory, patriarchy, the social system that has dominated since prehistoric times, is the primary cause of women’s oppression. Women have been treated more as objects of ownership than valuable equals with men in common humanity throughout history, as evidenced by the quote above. The healing process takes time, even though many of the past injuries inflicted on women are now illegal around the world. Women are still catching up in a game they haven’t been allowed to play for centuries, despite the fact that much of the world has adopted a capitalist economic system since the Renaissance.
One reason for this is the discriminatory treatment of women in the United States since the country’s founding in 1776. “Coverture” is a little-known word with a lot of history behind it. It’s a crucial concept for understanding the gender divides we see in the world in general and in Bitcoin in particular.
Coverture was a legal procedure that ensured that no woman had a legal identity. This meant that women couldn’t legally work in businesses, own property (including inherited property), or even have custody of their children if their husbands died.
Women like Susan B. Anthony fought for women’s rights over the years, allowing coverture to be dismantled piece by piece. But just because today’s women have won rights that should have been theirs all along doesn’t mean they won’t have to fight against current attitudes in fintech that coverture left behind.
REASON TO BE GLAD
Just over 13 years after Satoshi Nakamoto published the BTC white paper, the currency’s culture is still evolving and can be influenced by diversity and equality. This is a particularly sensitive and critical period in Bitcoin’s history. There is still a large void in the fintech space that women must fill, and Bitcoin is poised to help them do so. Bitcoin can help topple the tower of elitism and exclusion that has long sat at the intersection of technology and finance, resulting in fewer women in these industries, thanks to its roots as a protest against financial inequality and corruption.
While battles over Bitcoin regulation are being waged in Washington, D.C., and around the world, an equally important battle is being waged in every Bitcoiner’s mind: whether to keep or abolish the status quo regarding women. Bitcoin, I believe, will be a major catalyst for the changes that women around the world require in fintech and beyond.
Many women are doing remarkable work in the Bitcoin space, including Elizabeth Stark, Perianne Boring, Cynthia Lummis, Caitlin Long, and Amanda Cavaleri, who have done groundbreaking work to engage women on Bitcoin over the years. It will be exciting to see how many more women are added to this list in the months and years ahead. They will aid in the reshaping of the global landscape to make it more equitable and free.
HOW DO WE CHANGE DIRECTION?
This article is a call to action for men as we work to promote the BTC ethos and break the financial oppression chains. The following suggestions aren’t all-inclusive, and they’re certainly not cures for millennia-old wounds. But, if we truly believe that Bitcoin will solve this problem, we as men must be deliberate in laying a cultural foundation that is welcoming to all those who have been oppressed by the legacy financial system. The following encourages each of us to continue our research and provides a few small steps toward making Bitcoin a more equal and inclusive environment for women.
Consider your own personal motivations and perspectives on women’s adoption of Bitcoin.
Admit to any unconscious biases that have been perpetrated by the history of coverture and other forms of female oppression.
Inquire about Bitcoin with a woman in your family or circle of friends. Listen to their ideas with an open mind rather than trying to persuade them to think the way you do.
Break the silence when you see undertones of female oppression and misogyny to become a woman’s ally.