During her time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hope Liu didn’t join the Women in Management club. The former UBS executive and current chief executive of a blockchain company had been working in finance for six years prior to her MBA program, and told CNBC that she did not feel the need to join a society dedicated to increasing opportunities for women in business.
I felt that, as a woman, I didn’t want to be treated specially. I wanted to get the same opportunities as other guys,
Liu received more than $20 million in funding for her startup, Eximchain, which aims at building a public and scalable blockchain that ensures privacy for businesses. The technology allows proof of transaction to be made public, but the details are only between the buyer and seller.
Advocacy for Gender Issues
Despite her experience at MIT, Liu’s time traveling the world to pitch her startup idea prompted her to recognize the need to advocate for gender issues: She was frequently questioned about her ability to lead because of her gender, she told CNBC.
At one juncture, an influential man told her male employee — in front of her — that she would “never be able to make it” because she is female, she recounted.
Liu says that lack of gender diversity is particularly problematic in the blockchain space. She told CNBC of her disappointment after attending a blockchain conference in Japan where just two speakers out of a group of 42 were females.
The experience is not just an Asian issue. An article in The New York Times this year looked at “blockchain bros,” highlighting the significant gender disparity in the industry in the United States.
Despite the huge potential exhibited by blockchain in the economy and society, women are not yet reaping the benefits, as it is estimated that they make up about 4 to 6 percent of the total workforce in the blockchain industry.
Hong Building Communities
Yuree Hong, a Singapore based digital marketer, is determined to overturn this phenomenon.
Hong has created a blockchain community, S/HE Blockchainers Asia, which only invites female speakers, but opens its doors to everyone.
Although many blockchain events draw few women, at least 30 to 40 percent of the attendees at Hong’s events are female, she told CNBC. Hong explained that having female speakers encouraged women to participate.
The group has more than 500 members and has hosted events in Singapore, Seoul and Ho Chi Minh City. Hong wants to challenge the perception that there are few qualified women in the blockchain space. Hong said,
In fact, when I first told people I would only invite female speakers, people told me it is going to be difficult, but I’m finding it not difficult at all
Is it time to address the gender imbalance in the blockchain space? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.