New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper talked to most of the important people in the cryptocurrency crowd for his new new book, “Digital Gold” (Harper Collins). Despite trying though, he said he couldn’t find a single woman to participate, Felix Salmon reported in an article in Fusion.
The book is as close as you can get to being the definitive account of the history of Bitcoin, Salmon said, “but it features no female principals at all. The sole role of women in the book is as wives and girlfriends.”
What’s up with that?
From Fusion. Story by Felix Salmon.
Men make up an estimated 96 percent of the Bitcoin community, which means that if Bitcoin does end up succeeding, as its adherents think it will, and if the people who own Bitcoin see their holdings soar in value, then all of the profits will end up going to what Brett Scott calls the “crypto-patriarchy.”
As Charlie Stross says, the degree of inequality in the Bitcoin economy “is ghastly, and getting worse, to an extent that (it) makes a sub-Saharan African kleptocracy look like a socialist utopia.” But it’s not many men, and effectively zero women.
Popper doesn’t dwell on the almost complete absence of women in the Bitcoin story—in fact, he doesn’t mention it at all in his book. And the Bitcoin elite themselves aren’t doing much introspection on the topic. (We still have Bitcoin developers like the one in Simpson’s article saying things like “women don’t care about cryptocurrencies”). But the gender gap is a bigger problem than Bitcoiners realize. Unless and until women can be brought into the Bitcoin fold, broader adoption is simply not going to happen.
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Right now, Bitcoin is almost purpose-built for the $582-billion international remittances market, where women are half of the senders, and two-thirds of the recipients. And while there is no shortage of Bitcoin-based remittances products out there, none of them seem to be designing for real-world use cases. The developers are solving technical problems, and ignoring the much bigger and more important human problems.
Let’s say you wanted to build a mobile savings app in sub-Saharan African. If you asked male Bitcoin developers to build such a thing for a target audience of young African girls, they might have talked about how to maximize the amount of money saved. But, working on the ground in South Africa, the Praekelt Foundation came from a different perspective.
Apps like these aren’t really about maximizing savings, so much as they’re about empowerment.
If you can build a product for girls that ratifies their identity and individuality and gives them self-esteem, then you’re creating something much more valuable than a few dollars’ worth of savings: you’re keeping them in school, and you’re keeping them healthy, and you’re helping them to not get pregnant. That’s the kind of way that cryptocurrencies could change the world. The problem is that the men in Popper’s book just don’t think that way.
Read more at Fusion.