As hard as it is for women to enter the DeFi space, several notable women give their perspectives on their goals and aspirations in the industry.
There are many things to think about when entering this field: what inspires someone to do so; how blockchain technology, crypto and DeFi match with your overall personal or professional philosophy; and how one can change the life of others through promoting DeFi adoption, breaking the stigma surrounding this industry. Have you ever considered entering the decentralized world of blockchain technology? Is there anything holding you back?
In the DeFi industry, the above questions could be very intimidating, but the many women who have cracked into the space are changing the way decentralization is perceived. Getting women involved in an industry that has a preconceived idea of who should be the leaders is difficult, but women every day are breaking the already-established boundaries to perpetuate the industry in all aspects, including education, technological advancements and accessibility.
Their drive to change how education and implementation surrounding accessible finance reaches the masses will hopefully inspire some who have just dipped their toes in this seemingly cold water, showing that the water might actually be warmer than it looks.
Figure out your career goals
For many, the crypto and DeFi industries line up with their career and personal goals and can be used to their advantage professionally. Even if the world of blockchain and crypto falls upon you by accident, this could be an opportunity to explore it and discover how your experiences could benefit from blockchain and DeFi, or vice versa.
For example, while working at a central bank, UNICEF blockchain lead Christina Lomazzo used her institutional perspective to develop a connection. “I’ve been intrigued by the concept because of its power to redistribute traditional power dynamics and create opportunities for groups traditionally excluded from systems,” she told Cointelegraph, adding:
“I stayed in the industry because blockchain and crypto presented an opportunity to work with a foundational technology that offered many ways that systems could be rethought and redesigned.”
Working from the inside and trying to change the traditional power dynamic is a great example of how to use your previously acquired knowledge in DeFi. Changing the process of one institution is sure to make significant changes, profoundly developing the need to push boundaries of the industry and your career.
If one of your interests aligns with education, then perhaps a great thing to think about is how to organize meetups with the goal of educating. Elena Silenikova, co-founder of CryptoChicks, did just that. Studying Ethereum has always been a passion of hers, and after trying and successfully troubleshooting it on Windows, she decided to organize a meetup with other women to discuss Ethereum and share what they know. Silenikova explained:
“We eventually created a meetup group for women to teach them about different blockchains, various wallets and, most importantly, about the security precautions they need to pay attention to while working with crypto. Our meetup group grew; we started doing bigger events and ended up organizing CryptoChicks worldwide blockchain hackathon for women.”
From all over the world, women were traveling to Toronto for hackathons; major companies such as Deloitte and Microsoft were inviting them for seminars; and even women-led educational groups were asking for a CryptoChicks chapter to be established in various countries around the world. Silenikova believes that “many women needed help turning their projects into startups after these hackathons.”
A passion for education is so important to the industry, especially in a space that feels like a closed-off subculture, and that’s exactly what SheFi founder Maggie Love thought. After hearing about blockchain in a meeting, Love decided to read up on the topic, and that’s how she decided that this industry was for her:
“I wanted to figure out a way to kind of create a model like [the NCAA playoff bracket] or to get women excited to play with money in some sort of way and put it in DeFi protocols. There’s a problem that no women are putting their money in DeFi protocols and experimenting with them and earning money on their money.”
Knowing your strengths and interests is key to understanding how you can utilize your past experiences within the DeFi and crypto space, especially if there is a begging call that is pushing you toward the industry. Love added, “I was curious. I read about [blockchain], then I had to be a part of it. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in many ways to date.”
Why was crypto created?
Well-known within the community, the creator(s) of Bitcoin and a co-founder of Ethereum, two established cryptocurrencies defining crypto and thus DeFi in ways that complement each other, created a new industry that many did not realize its full potential and usefulness — until it happened to be exactly what they were looking for.
After noticing how this industry has so many different ways for people to “poke at the edges” of creativity, Love believes that there is always a way to expand what is there, to push the limits of this boundless industry: “With Satoshi and with Buterin, they reimagined the way that the world could be organized for value creation — whether it is money, whether it is a metaverse or in art and creators — in the way that they earn money and get discovered. And so, it’s hard not to live in this world of new imagination once you’re introduced to it.”
With SheFi, Love is able to continue to express the creativity and imagination from the founders of the space without adhering to the perceived status quo of the industry. She added, “Decentralization became possible only because of Satoshi and Vitalik’s work, and now would be the time when people can benefit from it on many levels.”
For Silenikova, it was important for her to start something that is “building borderless businesses on a scale, freedom of implementing your hopes and dreams without any fear that someone can deny, prohibit or block them.” One would be able to access the industry from anywhere in the world, as well as access remote financing and investing, regardless of where you are located because there are “possibilities and yield that you could not even imagine before.”
With Lomazzo, her passion for building ways in which underbanked communities can be fairly represented has crossed over well into the decentralized industry. “Decentralized technologies, particularly blockchain and crypto, introduce opportunities to address cross-cutting societal challenges,” she said. In her work with UNICEF, she used these philosophies to her advantage, funding eight blockchain companies in seven countries to start paving the way toward financial inclusion.
These women used the philosophies of the respective white papers of Bitcoin and Ethereum to their advantage, developing a way to change the world and build a better and borderless system. And this was because of their interpretation of how their professional and personal philosophies can be integrated with the foundation of the space.
How to break down the centralized barriers
Decentralization in the crypto industry has many goals, one of which is to place privacy and control back in the hands of the people. Whether that is by using cryptocurrency or helping your community utilize blockchain technology for data storage, decentralized technology can bring forth freedoms that are otherwise unavailable for many.
Breaking the stigma that crypto is only for a certain group of people is important in order for the industry’s full potential to come to fruition.
However, starting the process can be challenging, and Lomazzo advises to participate in seminars, hackathons and groups dedicated to changing and educating, as well as donating to hedge funds that will help broaden technology because according to her, “More product choices and more institutional adoption will widen the impact of cryptocurrency and create opportunity and choice where they may not otherwise exist.”
The crypto and decentralized world is creative and motivating, but it is important to remember why this industry exists in the first place. Breaking the stigma starts with implementing ways to think about how people are affected by being outside of the centralized financial system and what could be thought to actually open DeFi systems to those communities.
Love stated, “Think about what are the ways we can onboard more people and get more perspectives about what is challenging in the traditional financial system for people who do not have access and privilege,” as she added further:
“Crypto is still pretty homogenous in many ways, and we still need to do the work to think about who our neighbors are that are hurting because they are not in the traditional financial system where it’s not easy for them.”
The decentralized industry still has ways to go, and making sure that you stay educated and curious, without forgetting what has started it all, is a surefire way to start moving toward real-life implementation.
As Silenikova said, “We live in the exciting time of endless possibilities that the blockchain technology has opened up for us, so let’s embrace all of its benefits!” DeFi and crypto have so many possibilities for innovation and implementation, so despite the uncertainties, doubts or the glass ceiling that this industry appears to have, there is always a way that could push the industry forward and beyond.
In an industry that may seem intimidating and inaccessible to many, the inspiration, philosophies and advice that industry pioneers can give to newcomers shed light on the importance of decentralized finance (DeFi) and the utilization of blockchain to store data and protect one’s privacy.
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Author: Emily Tonelli