As a Woman in Blockchain

Hey everyone, my name is Sarah Donaldson, I’m the UX Lead and PM here at BlockAble Solutions and the ABL Ecosystem. I am also, a woman in blockchain.

As with many industries traditionally dominated by men, the Blockchain space is presently lacking in its representation of women (94% male to 6% according to Coin Dance and google analytics). Why is this some of us ask? Some articles I’ve read claim it comes from a simple lack of interest, while others say women simply want the benefits of being thought leaders in the space without doing any of the hard work. I tend to disagree with those opinions, but it did get me thinking that we definitely do need to shed more light on women, and the experiences we have existing in this space.

A Couple Disclaimers

Before I dive into it — a couple disclaimers, first of which is that this article isn’t about WHY we need women in blockchain (I’m sure you can figure that part out), but I will say that it takes two to tango and that men are not the only ones creating discrimination, if we really want to bring more women to the space it’s going to take all of us to create that change.

Secondly, this is just my experience; I acknowledge that I lucked out in the sense that ABL is Co-Founded and led in part by a righteously strong woman! Lastly, while this article isn’t about why we need women in the space, I do hope that this encourages more women to join us! Please? We need you! (anyone…bueller?)

Now then, we could easily get into the whole Nature vs. Nurture debate but… let’s not ;) But to kick us off and give you some perspective, here is a little bit about my background working in tech in general as a lady…

I have worked with a variety of tech companies across North America, mostly small to medium, some with 50/50 gender splits and LGBTQ and some, I was the only female in the joint. Honestly, I had good and bad experiences from both when it came to my gender.

The not so cool parts of working in tech (past experiences):

Having worked in the tech industry for what is considered a fairly decent amount of time, I can say that Blockchain is not so different from the rest of the techworld. How many of you have experienced any of these?

  • Gender profiling — it’s a thing. Often I get profiled for being a ‘sales chick’ (no offense, sales is not easy job! It’s just lame when someone makes an assumption).
  • Being called ‘stupid’ in a work setting by a male colleague (he was kind of just an ass in general though)
  • Get labelled ‘cute’, ‘innocent’ ‘sweet’ or ‘too nice’. Heck, I have been called ‘brash’ when standing up for myself politely.
  • Been overlooked for leadership positions, for being a woman, despite being the most knowledgeable person in the group on the topic.
  • Yes — I have heard an unbelievable amount of foul mouthed jokes (but really some were funny and if you know the people well enough, you know they mean no harm — just seeking attention).

These aren’t made up, I’ve lived it. All of those things are not cool. Very, not cool. To add to it, It may come as a surprise to many of you but — All of these things have come from both men and WOMEN in tech.

The good parts, far out weigh the bad

As much as media headlines might often portray working in tech as a Patriarchal Dystopia, it’s really not as bad as they make it seem. Many of my favourite mentors and leaders have been men. Men that want to see talented and good PEOPLE (no gender attached) succeed and strong empowered women that push to empower others.

I thank to them for:

  • Giving me the tools to grind and produce own my own.
  • Expanding and pushing my thinking.
  • Showing me what good leadership means (always learning on this).
  • Empowering and giving me resources.

These people never saw my gender as a disability. They exposed my strengths, relentless thirst for knowledge, personal growth and passion for innovation.

They trusted and invested in me, and I owe them everything and give them all of my respect.

Here at Abl:

Our team currently sits at approx 25% female, and we are always looking for more smart gems to join! ;)

I don’t know if this directly makes a difference in how we treat people with different genders than our own, but everyone has a crazy amount of respect for each other. Everyone is so freaking talented, knowledgeable and experts of their craft.

  • Yes — I sit surrounded by dudes, but that’s tech for you. Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me either way. It is my job to be in the heart of the product with the team, just so happens they are male, usually substantially taller than me and don’t judge when they make you laugh so hard you snort. :P
  • My role right now is to design the product features, UX, feature planning and organize the teams tasks — while having a fundamental understanding is valuable, the team knows I don’t know how every line of a smart contract works, and they know that it isn’t my job to know.
  • My ‘soft skills’ (read as: “totally badass” skills) have been utilized to bring the team closer together, and rally each other on. It’s nice to feel needed and that these skills benefit the team dynamic.
  • I have been recognized for excelling in other areas and encourage to utilize and grow those skills.

The Blockchain Eco-System

In the end, maybe there is a major bromance happening at blockchain conferences around the world right now. But ladies( and LGBTQ), right now we have an opportunity to break traditional norms in a space that is still very new! The scene is desperate for talent, and not just developers (although there are only five thousand blockchain dev’s in the world right now, so we wouldn’t be upset if you were one), but literally every facet of a business. It’s been an amazing experience, and together we can continue to build it into a truly progressive one. Come join me in the depths of the innovation, science and drive change.

  • YOU as a female can create change within a team.
  • YOUR skills and brains are needed.
  • YOUR diverse personalities are welcomed and embraced.

I promise, if you love being challenged you will love it. If you are already here with me, PLEASSSSSEE encourage and empower more ladies to embrace innovative technologies like blockchain.

Questions? Hit me up or in our telegram channel

Peace and crypto love ~

Sarah Donaldson
UX Lead @ BlockAble/ABL