Recently, some in the media have been squabbling over the perceived gender-gap within the bitcoin community and its ramifications for the digital currency itself.
Felix Salmon of Fusion went as far as doltishly predicting the downfall of bitcoin citing a dated 2013 study stating 96% of bitcoin users are male. “If you are a woman involved with Bitcoin, you are invariably going to get treated like an outsider,” wrote Salmon mixing in weak anecdotal evidence to back up his claim.
Salmon, who this past year changed his Twitter bio from “artisanal troll” to “to test the resolution of the young with tales of the small failings of the great, and shame the eager with ironic praise” might consider reverting to the original.
One piece of evidence Salmon used in his troll piece was a quote from Vice’s Victoria Turk. She stated, “It seems that the only Bitcoin community that particularly welcomes female participation is the NSFW subreddit r/GirlsGoneBitcoin”. Yeah, so it seems /s.
Another was an “enraging” (Salmon’s description) account of what it’s like to be a woman at a Bitcoin meetup:
The person who actually suggested the event to Ryan was another young woman (the only other woman at the event), a VC who was in town from San Francisco and was interested in checking it out for the first time. The aforementioned groper knew Ryan vaguely from other Bitcoin events, and greeted their arrival with a warm “Oh, nice to see you! I see you brought your girlfriend this time.” When the two of them try to point out that a) they are not together and b) she was actually the one who had brought him, they are cut off with a swift “Sure, sure, I just wanted to see what the dynamic was between you two.” Apparently that’s code for “checking if you’re ok with my hitting on her,” as that’s exactly what he proceeds to do.
Shortly after his laughable report was published, Fortune’s Daniel Roberts answered with a rebuttal offering up a myriad of prominent female bitcoin CEO’s and other adopters carrying a pair of X chromosomes. One of which is Andrea Castillo, an economic researcher at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. She had contributed to bitcoin’s first policy primer along with her colleague Jerry Brito.
Contrary to Salmon’s dire outlook on the bitcoin gender-gap issue Ms. Castillo sounded a bit more optimistic telling Roberts, “I might be a special case, but in my experience, I’ve only been welcomed and encouraged in this space.” She elaborated a bit more, “I’ve never felt there were barriers presented to me because of my gender. If anything, I think people have been nicer to me because of it.”
Roberts also mentions M.K. Lords who is also quite active in the bitcoin sphere. She currently works at a company that accepts bitcoin as payment for certain precious metals. In addition to this, she hosts a bitcoin radio show and has organized several bitcoin conferences. She claims:
“To say there are no women in bitcoin is sexist because it diminishes all the very active women in the space. Women are accepted with open arms in the bitcoin industry. Yes, you deal with similar culture in tech at large, it is mostly male, but I haven’t experienced any kind of sexism. At my conferences, I had 40% more women in full speaker slots than other conferences.”
Through it all, it was Andrea Castillo who was really onto something here:
“You can always look at a ratio on paper, but for me the more interesting question is, are there any barriers? Are there people who don’t want them [women or people of color] to join and be involved? I don’t see that at all. I see everyone saying, ‘Are you interested in bitcoin? Join us, get involved.’ I mean, it’s an open-source project.”
Bitcoin needs individuals with creativity, dedication and knowledge, characteristics not determined by gender.
Take Wikipedia, which is stronger than ever despite a survey in 2011 that showed over 90% of its editors were male. Using Salmon’s logic, Wikipedia should have already met its downfall.
Or Apple’s workforce statistics which show a 70/30 percentage of men to women.
Salmon and his ilk’s engineering of gender-bias storylines should be condemned, mocked and then ignored.