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January 24, 2018

Bitcoin boys club? The crypto community is wide open for gender inclusivity: Kavita Gupta

By Lucy Spencer

Cryptocurrency is rapidly becoming part of the everyday lexicon. Though still very much an emerging technology, its growing potential has seen the value of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum skyrocket in recent years.

Bitcoin is valued at around USD 11,000 today, up from a mere quarter-of-a-cent USD in 2010. By 2025, some estimates predict that 10% of global GDP might be stored on blockchains or blockchain-related technology.

As an emerging technology, the demographics of the ‘crypto community’ could have potentially important implications for boosting gender inclusivity in the tech sector. But there is one problem: data shows that there are fewer female entrepreneurs in the Bitcoin industry than in other tech sectors. They also only make up some 3.5% of Bitcoin users.

Why we need more women

“In my job, I have not come across any blockchain technical co-founder so far – and overall, not many women at all,” Kavita Gupta, Founding Managing Partner at ConsenSys Ventures, told Lucy Spencer, reporting for ITU News.

Gupta oversees a USD 50 million venture fund, ConsenSys Ventures, launched by Ethereum production studio, Consensys.  It provides financial support to breakthrough blockchain companies in the early stage, focusing on Ethereum-based businesses.

“It is vital that more women take part in the disruptive power of cryptocurrency as it is here to stay.” –Kavita Gupta

Smart Contracts on Ethereum are beginning to build greater trust and transparency, which could help bolster the long-term sustainable value for the cryptocurrency, says Gupta.  It is vital that more women take part in the disruptive power of cryptocurrency as it is here to stay,  she says.

“This is a new technology, and it has equal access to men and women,” Gupta told ITU News. “Women have the power to create the solution, not just being part of the target audience. So, I want women to get on this ride and create the solutions to become the leaders – and the field is wide open.”

As this is a new ecosystem, it is a good time for women – and men – to pitch the next billion dollar idea, says Gupta.

“Make sure you give your 100% effort with respect to pitching your idea, explaining your idea and keep on working and delivering the next stage of that idea – and people will turn their head because every [venture capitalist] is looking for a great idea to invest in,” says Gupta.

From Delhi to disruption

Gupta’s path to blockchain venture capital was not straight-forward: as a young girl growing up in Delhi, India, she didn’t know what she wanted to do later in life – so she tried everything that appealed to her to figure it out. Good at maths, she ended up studying Computer Science at MIT, after transferring from Engineering school in Delhi.

Before she joined ConsenSys, she worked in traditional venture capital and emerging markets – blockchain venture capital could be described as an appealing area that she decided to try out.

“I love creating new ways of investing, and I think that is what got me super excited about how do you create a new way of investing into blockchain,” she said to ITU News.

“It’s a super, super exciting space to be. I am personally coming from a generation where I missed the 1995-98 bubble, and I also missed the 2003 evolution of the Googles and Facebooks of the world. I missed both of those really big Silicon Valley evolutions, so for me, this is my evolution: this is my next wave.”

The importance of education

Gupta emphasised the importance of education to improving gender equality. “I think that if women are educated they can do anything, even if not early on in their life, they can pivot their life at any time based on their education,” she said.

ConsenSys has launched ConsenSys Academy, an eight week programme for engineers that are interested in learning how to code on blockchain. Every graduate from the 2017 programme received a job offer after completing the course.

“I would encourage every woman engineer across the world to apply for it,” she said.

Lucy Spencer (@inquisitivelucy) is a freelance writer whose focus areas include tech startups and how information and communication technologies are improving lives worldwide. She was previously a Communications Officer at ITU. You can read more of her work here: naturally-inquisitive.com

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ITU is the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology. Any opinions expressed and statistics presented by third parties do not necessarily reflect the views of ITU.

Bitcoin boys club? The crypto community is wide open for gender inclusivity: Kavita Gupta

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