By Valeria Kholostenko, Chief Marketing Officer, Astar Network

Blockchain has burst onto the scene at a blistering pace, in 2018 the blockchain market was valued at $1.57 billion and is forecast to grow to $163 billion by 2027 – more than a hundred times its current value.

Despite this growth, blockchain has a diversity problem. Only three of the 88 speakers at the 2018 North American Bitcoin Conference were female.

So where does the problem begin? According to the Pew Research Center, only 19% of women aged 18 – 29 have invested in, traded, or used a cryptocurrency, compared to 43% of men in the same age bracket.

With so few women engaging with crypto and blockchain at a base level, how does the sector reflect female workers? In 2019 between 4 – 6% of developers and investors in the blockchain were women, an incredibly low amount. This lower adoption of crypto and blockchain by women in the early days has led to a major diversity gap across the sector. So how do you best fix that gap and what is life in blockchain like for women?

The blockchain space is extremely fast-paced in both speed at which information is thrown at you and your ability to grasp new concepts and find ways to implement these ideas into reality. For years our universities have churned out rule followers, yes women and men, but more so women as the entrepreneurial path is hard for a female with little to no stability. One of the reasons for low participation in the blockchain ecosystem for women is that historically less than 2% of venture goes to women-founded companies. Hence, women are more encouraged to climb the corporate ladder.

Depending on when women enter the blockchain space, and if it engages their interests enough, they stay or leave. The space is highly cyclical so coming in at the end of a bull market than losing a job, let’s say, going into the bear, might force someone to go back into the corporate ladder-climbing structure. I can assure you the benefits of sticking around during the bear are endless; you just have to believe in what you are working on and really want it. You have the ability to be at the forefront of innovation with some of the most exciting technologies being built and invest yourself in the founding of these teams, which reap significant financial benefits and are exceptionally personally empowering.

How did you first get into blockchain?

I was in the process of moving back to London after a short stint working at an accelerator off of the Strand, as I came across all the incredible possibilities that blockchain avails at the largest venture builder for Ethereum dapps, enterprise solutions, and investments. I fell in love with the possibility of what blockchain avails, and when a role in their NYC headquarters became available, I decided to join.

What would be your advice to women who want to work in blockchain and crypto?

You have to commit yourself to the fundamentals of the space entirely. I have always been at the forefront of new technologies by defacto of living in San Francisco most of my adult life and have always been an activist and supported equality, innovative thought processes, and approach to business. The best way to ramp up in the blockchain space is to learn quickly, adjust even quicker, comprehend complicated concepts, and drive results from what you learn. I’ve had great mentors who have shown me the full spectrum of what you need to have to survive around here.

What are some of the challenges for those looking to enter the sector? 

Look into different ecosystems, and learn the culture of each one. One will jive with you over another. Crypto is pretty tribal, and you want to know the reasons for one over another, which will help you find your people. Then dive in and learn everything you can: technology, culture, history, and reasons it exists.

Valeria KholostenkoAbout the author

Valeria has over 15 years’ experience helping early-stage technology companies accelerate growth. In 2017, Valeria oversaw international collaborations between organizations exploring Ethereum enabled technologies as the Head of Development and Global Community at ConsenSys. Her passion for driving global expansion took her to Berlin to lead as CMO of LUKSO blockchain. Most recently becoming CMO for Astar Network, the leading Smart Contract Hub on the Polkadot Network.