Male-dominated crypto world needs more women, exchange head says

Blockchain needs greater female participation and offers opportunities as the industry becomes more mature.
Blockchain needs greater female participation and offers opportunities as the industry becomes more mature.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - The male-dominated cryptocurrency industry could provide more employment opportunities for women, according to the head of Australia's largest digital-asset exchange.

Blockchain needs greater female participation and offers opportunities as the industry becomes more mature and acceptance of decentralised finance grows, said Ms Caroline Bowler, chief executive of BTC Markets in Melbourne.

The sector welcomes fresh thinking and allows for flexibility, Ms Bowler said.

"There are lots of entry points into cryptocurrency and into blockchain businesses and you don't have to be a developer or specialising in blockchain in order to find your place within this ecosystem," she said.

Ms Bowler's encouragement flies in the face of crypto's notorious "bro culture", as well as Australia's chequered record on gender equity. As in much of finance and tech, the digital asset industry remains largely male-dominated, though figures on the gender split in the industry remain hard to come by. Men also dominate crypto investing.

'Crypto Bros'

"It's not perfect, there is that whole 'crypto bros' subsection that still exists and I have no doubt will continue to exist," said Ms Bowler, who once worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and sits on the board of Blockchain Australia. "But as crypto becomes increasingly mainstream and more women come in, the impact of that crypto bro is diluted and the normal mainstream acceptance comes through."

The trajectory of traditional finance suggests it will not be easy to boost the ranks of women working in the digital asset domain. While the rise in the number of female fund managers was the biggest ever in the Citywire Alpha Female 2021 report, the percentage of women who manage money worldwide rose to just 11.8 per cent from 10.3 per cent.

The most famous woman in the industry is probably Ms Blythe Masters, the former JPMorgan Chase & Co banker credited with inventing the credit-default swap, who went on to found blockchain start-up Digital Asset Holdings in 2015. But for people who see the value in gender equity, there is still a long way to go.

"We have to get more women in the industry," said Mr Anthony Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital, which offers Bitcoin and Ethereum funds, in an interview last week. "The more diverse we are, the smarter we are. We can draw on people from all over the place. I don't know how we do it, but we have to."