Is alt-fi following gender inequality issues of the tech industry?
The tech industry is becoming notorious for its lack of accessibility, whether intentionally or not. A recent study by TechCrunch revealed that only “7 per cent of partners at top 100 venture [capital] firms are women,” and this statistic only scratches the surface when illuminating gender equality in the tech firm.
Gender inequality in the tech industry has even spawned a new term: The “tech bro culture,” which is filled with “brogrammers” and “blockchain bros.” Although women have proven themselves as legit players in the industry — see: women are better crowdfunders than men — women are still underrepresented and even discriminated against in not only alternative finance but nearly every field of the tech industry.
So, why are women fighting an uphill battle in nearly every stage when trying to establish themselves in tech? Well, that may be attributed to several accessibility gaps. Below, we’ll look at the accessibility gaps contributing to some of the barriers women have to climb to even be acknowledged in the tech industry.
The digital divide
In many circumstances, access to the internet and accompanying computers or devices aren’t a given. Technological advancements have transformed education as we know it, and a portion of students are missing out because of lack of resources or financial capabilities — not only in third world countries but in America as well. These are all people, young women and men, who could turn out to be the next tech guru but might never get the chance to find out.
Asset Panda reports that “(t)est scores from low-income students increased by 30 per cent after they were given access to Internet-capable devices.” This leaves them in serious danger of falling behind due to the fact that they cannot access the many educational tools provided by the internet.
Youtube, educational courses and other online learning, and the gamification of education are all standards in the education industry today. These help k-12 students learn essential tech skills while interacting with a device and the internet at an appropriate age. However, because of the digital divide, these skills are not finding their way to a large portion of today’s youth, and it is contributing to the next obstacle of the tech industry.
The tech gap
The demand for qualified applicants possessing tech skills is growing. However, the supply isn’t meeting the demand. DeVry University surveyed 500 hiring managers and senior-level executives in a 2016 study, “Technology Skills Gap Research,” and concluded that “62% of students coming out of school aren’t prepared with the necessary tech skills.” This unpreparedness could be directly correlated with the digital divide but brings with it another concern.
If women aren’t being looked at in the first place for positions in the tech industry, this scarcity of qualified applicants might perpetuate the overlooking of females by employers even further. For example, if a company was hiring for a blockchain/crypto trader or a researcher knowing there is a lack of qualified applicants, they will be hard-pressed to hire a female over a male because of prejudices that make males the norm — continuing the cycle.
As if it weren’t enough for women to make it over the two hurdles above, dealing with certain inequalities throughout, their next obstacle will be even greater. Navigating your way through the tech bro culture as a woman can be frustrating, annoying, and dangerous at times.
Tech bro culture
Many tech fields are starting to treat their work environment much like a frat house. Reports of discriminatory, sexist remarks and even sexual harassment have been documented. Wage inequality is known across all industries, but trying to navigate your way through a toxic work environment while being discriminated against is starting to prompt some female leaders in the cryptocurrency world to fight back.
Blockchain bros have gone too far: At a Bitcoin conference in Miami, 84 men were asked to speak and only four women — and the after party was held at a nearby strip club. It’s this kind of sexist, negligent behaviour that women have to fight through to be recognized as legitimate in the tech industry today, all while fighting off unwanted advances, and cases of sexual harassment.
Women are severely underrepresented in the tech field, including the cryptocurrency field, and the women who have established themselves are giving words of encouragement to make the tech world better and more inclusive for women. Alexia Bonatsos tweeted this message earlier this year: “Women, consider crypto. Otherwise, the men are going to get all the wealth, again.”
Entrepreneur Brit Morin has gone as far to hold a blockchain gathering in which 500 people attended and 16,000 viewers watched. The gathering was to increase awareness of the tech bro problem while encouraging all women that they are most certainly qualified to enter the tech world.
As stated above, gender inequality is an issue for almost every industry. But the tech industry is a different beast. An industry that fosters any discrimination and sexism to the point of advancing into sexual harassment should not be tolerated. The gender inequality gap in the tech industry is starting to be addressed, but this will require more women like Alexia Bonatsos and Brit Morin make headway in the industry. Women are more than qualified to excel in any field of technology; you have to wonder if the gender gap is deterring women away.