The Financial Crisis of 2008 a seismic event whose aftershocks we continue to experience was widely believed to be a black swan event (even though it was perhaps actually a grey rhino) and unforeseen by most experts and regulations. And yet, Brooksley Born, a woman, and lawyer, chair of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), an important financial markets regulator, did predict and seek to address one of the fundamental causes of the crisis unregulated OTC derivatives -10 years earlier in 1998.
In a Harvard Business School case study and Washington Post profile of this Cassandra document, she proposed to investigate and seek market feedback on OTC derivatives, acknowledging their benefits as well as risks, and to think about potential regulations to enhance counterparty creditworthiness.
Greenspan and Summers dismissed her concerns (and herself) and mocked them (claiming, ironically, that regulating OTCs would cause an economic crisis worse than that of World War II, which, in the end, did happen most disastrously).
Gender inequality is a definite issue in the sphere of money. The global fintech founder community is still dominated by men, with women making up just 7% of the total pool, according to a Deloitte study. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, which analyzed the gap between men and women in 149 countries, women do not have equal access to financial services in nearly 40% of countries. As financial freedom becomes a priority for women looking to find greater autonomy in their lives, crypto is proving to be an attractive avenue in recent times.
Despite the odds stacked against them, women across the globe and especially in India, have made giant strides in the crypto arena. In the past year, leading crypto exchange platform WazirX saw a whopping 1000% rise in user registration from women. Not only that, women who haven’t crossed the threshold yet also seem very interested when it comes to investing in crypto. A Grayscale study revealed that 93% of women worldwide said they would be open to investing in crypto and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) if provided with more information about this digital asset class. Several studies on investor behavior have shown that female investors are generally risk-averse and spend more time researching their options. With more women investing in crypto, this shows how this digital asset class has matured in recent years as well as its increasing acceptability as a mainstream asset class.
There are women CEOs and evangelists trailblazing their way to help shift the balance and encourage more women to enter crypto via initiatives, including women-only conferences like:
- ‘Beyond the Blockchain’ and ‘Empowering Women Within CryptoSpace’ headed by panelists like Tina Hui, CEO, and founder at Follow The Coin, Elvina Kamalova, Director of Growth at Block Mason, and Karyl Fowler from Transmute.
- Lightning Labs scholarships for women developers.
- Women-centric initiatives like She265, Cryptochicks, and organizations like Global Women in Blockchain and Diversity in Blockchain challenge the status quo.
- All-women communities like ‘Boys Club’ provide a soft landing to women who are curious about cryptos.
- We have had some powerful women reaching new milestones in the crypto industry, including Catherine Coley, the CEO of Binance US; George Quinn, General Counsel at Anchorage;
- Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO of BitPesa; Leah Jonas, Head of Partnerships at Celsius Network, Toni Lane Casserly, CEO of CoinTelegraph and the list goes on.
The reasons Crypto space need more Women :
For better decision making:
It was an example of the inverse of what treasures of research demonstrate diverse and inclusive teams (especially those with a multidisciplinary approach) execute better judgments, eschewing “groupthink”, and disrupting ossified assumptions. Heterogeneous groups have a greater capacity for creative and critical thinking than homogeneous ones, a skill set necessary for solving intractable, “wicked” problems. These are the kinds of problems regulators and central banks are tasked with solving. Out of the numerous reasons to champion the representation of women (and under-represented groups), there are two particularly relevant for central banks and financial regulators that are mandated to deliver the public goods of financial stability and consumer protection, and to foster fairer markets for credit, savings, investments, insurance, and pensions; and to champion female leadership, legitimacy, and justice. It’s incumbent on public institutions to mirror the societies they serve, which cement their credibility and legitimacy. It’s also a more just composition and one that allows for more just outcomes.
Makes for good economics too:
By way of example, there is wide anecdotal data to suggest that in the world access to credit for women in several segments is hindered by structural barriers. Women with evidence of income and assets are still required to produce approval of their male relatives to get loans. Post-Covid, there are gender-specific economic issues, including a “she-cession”, exacerbating already dwindling female labor force participation, lowering women’s incomes and growth prospects. Female representation in financial regulators could allow attention to be focussed on these issues, which in turn makes eminent economic sense, as World Bank and IMF data suggest closing the gender gap in employment could increase GDP by an average of 35% apart from being intrinsically fair. Yet, as the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum’s annual Gender Balance Index reveals, financial regulators around the world remain far from gender-balanced.
Changing The Narrative:
The professional crypto ecosystem has come a long way from the 2011 Bitcoin Conference, where a single woman was there in attendance (for 50 men). More interestingly, she had introduced herself as ‘the wife of a miner.’ Today, female crypto bosses are slaying the so-called ‘crypto bro’ culture with their stellar contribution to the industry – speaking upfront in regulatory conversations, setting up their own companies, and participating as individual investors.
Footprints of women in investment, web 3.0, NFTs, metaverse, and financial inclusivity.
To begin with, women are better lovers than men. According to a Fidelity Investments Survey, women save around 8.3% of their income. Hence, these savings give women the ability to diversify their investments into high-return assets such as crypto. Next, women make better investors because they evaluate risks in nearly every situation and try to mitigate them as much as possible. Female investors, according to Merill Lynch’s research, assess risks better before investing in an asset class. As a result, female investors can be more analytical when it comes to investing. Their caution pushes them to take the right action when investing in an asset class like crypto which can be volatile. And the results show women are more resilient when it comes to money management, outperforming their male counterparts in return on investments by as much as 10% over the last four years.
Web 3.0 will change every aspect of our lives, and finance is no exception. Web 3.0 is here and the metaverse is going to be the future of human interaction. Many women are striving to create inclusive spaces in this arena, with accessible entry points to make things less intimidating for the crypto-curious, with companies like Meta Angels, Curious Addys, and Women in Blockchain Talks. NFTs are a great use case for Web 3.0 and the last 18 months have seen a remarkable rise when it comes to female NFT artists. From Yam Karkai’s World of Women Crypto Community featuring over 10,000 artworks from women across the globe to Krista Kim using her platform as a medium for promoting digital humanism, there are plenty of encouraging signs. Trading crypto or NFTs is not the end of the wingspan of blockchain technology but just the beginning. In fact, crypto, along with the NFT boom, and the advent of the metaverse will be a springboard towards the future of financial inclusivity regardless of gender.
While the number of female investors has increased, the challenge remains and it just goes to show how much longer the journey of bridging the gender gap is for women, despite having already come so far. And again, that’s where crypto as an asset class offers advantages, especially for women. Crypto’s best feature is its lack of barriers, all one needs to get started is a smartphone and a bank account, and KYC documentation, which anyone with a bank account would already have. This has made crypto investments simple and accessible to anyone in the country. However, it’s clear that crypto players need to do more to educate women on this investment opportunity. More female investors (76% ) than male investors (52%)admitted that they lack familiarity with this new asset class, according to the study by Grayscale. With their savvy demeanor, women have not just woken up to the potential of crypto but are actually proving they are more than equal to men. As more and more women look to achieve financial autonomy or seek a source of secondary income, they will find a haven for themselves in this blockchain phenomenon. When there comes a day of true financial equality across genders, we will certainly realize that crypto played a role in getting the wheels of finance moving faster towards an inclusive future.
Our gratitude to all the women in the finance and crypto space