Women's roles in society
9/26/17 at 03:28 PM 0 Comments

Why Are Women So Underrepresented In the Cryptocurrency Community?

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According to surveys conducted by Coindesk in 2015; more than 90% of the Bitcoin users in the market were “young, pale, techie, and male.” Other surveys have put the number of women using cryptocoins at less than 2%. Also in 2015, Felix Salmon wrote in Mother Jones about the inequality of women in the cryptocurrency world, and how that would ultimately keep the currency from seeing widespread adoption.

Salmon looked specifically at potential markets in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where national currencies can be inherently complicated. A young woman there using Bitcoin to receive international payments through a small business isn’t choosing a currency based on ideological values. She wants to receive and spend money efficiently and easily. Letting her do so will help keep her in school, healthy, and help her avoid pregnancy until she chooses to start a family.

So why are cryptocoins so appealing to young libertarians and so unappealing to everyone else, especially women?

Mimics and Magnifies Finance and Technology’s Gender Problem
The Bitcoin world brings together those who are passionate about finance and those who are passionate about technology. In the earliest days of Bitcoin mining, it took an incredible amount of computing power to mine a single coin.

Those who had the kind of processors and video cards capable of doing that sort of work were most likely to be hard-core gamers, and hard-core gamers have a higher chance of being young white men.

According to Graeme Conradie, the CEO of DNX Community Digital Nomad, the industries of finance and technology are predominantly young, white, and male, so it makes sense that a commodity which is essentially a niche interest of those areas is also predominantly used by young, white men.

Ideology Mismatch
For the most part, people who use Bitcoin use it for one of three reasons. They are treating it as a commodity and speculating on its future value, they are doing something illegal, or they believe in a decentralized currency for ideological reasons.

Many of the latter group fall into the libertarian camp, another sphere that is generally populated by white men. After all, many of the protections that libertarians feel are unnecessary are those that work for women, people of color, and other minority groups.

Women are less likely to be exposed to the concepts about Bitcoin, and are less likely to have the same ideological thought points that make a new currency option seem particularly appealing.

Women Less Risky As Investors
Although the effect varies from study to study, it is generally agreed that women save more of their money over time than men, and that their eventual investments are less risky than those men make. Women who live with children may be more likely to be considering paying for college or other expenses for their kids, or they may be less likely to have careers that will give them a pension or dividends to pay for retirement years.

Whatever the reason, Bitcoin and other altcoins have not yet made the transition from commodity to currency, regardless of how their enthusiasts try to describe them. The vast majority of people who buy Bitcoin horde them, and sell them later for higher value. With few merchants accepting cryptocoins of any type as payment, women are less likely to embrace Bitcoin; after all, American women outspend men in every location except for gas stations and convenience stores.

Women Made To Feel Unwelcome In Bitcoin Spaces
The largest part of the discussion around Bitcoin and mining happens in places like Reddit. There are many business ideas for women, however this industry is notoriously unfriendly to women. In fact, the Bitcoin subreddit with the most female followers is r/GirlsGoneBitcoin, where women are encouraged to post nude photos for tips in Bitcoin. In some forums, posts remind men to not engage with those claiming to be women on the forums, as they are most likely scammers.

Young men in the libertarian tech and finance worlds are unfortunately also likely to hold outdated sexist views that line up with the concepts espoused by men’s rights activists, or MRAs. There are even articles written about how men should adopt Bitcoin as part of a plan to bring down feminism. Even women who are interested in the concept of cryptocurrency are likely to be put off by the attitudes that they may encounter in these spheres.

Is it important for women to use Bitcoin? If Bitcoin and other cryptocoins are going to continue to be a commodity traded amongst those who are passionate about high-yield investments, then no. But if the users truly want to see this currency replace fiat currencies and become a globally available and useable payment system, then yes, making the technology accessible and friendly to women will be absolutely necessary, and the sooner the better.

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