Women and Digital Transformation – Opportunities for Diversity and Leadership?
Blockchain, cryptocurrencies and digitization - topics for women?
Digital transformation is everywhere. What are the opportunities for women to influence digitization through change leadership?Jacky Lam wrote for Forbes in 2019: “Cryptocurrency and blockchain are becoming one of the biggest disruptive technologies in the world. As expected, the sector saw immense startup growth and investor interest. However, as we continue to see success in fundraising, ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), and application growth in blockchain technology, it also reveals a worrying trend: women are not on the scene.
Digital transformation is ubiquitous, Jacky Lam wrote for Forbes in 2019: “Cryptocurrency and blockchain are becoming one of the biggest disruptive technologies in the world. As expected, the sector saw immense startup growth and investor interest. However, as we continue to see success in fundraising, ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), and application growth in blockchain technology, we also see a worrying trend: women need to be on the scene. ” We see the same trend in STOs and digital assets. Every study shows that women are underrepresented in leadership positions in banking, technology, blockchain, and fintech. So, where is the female factor in blockchain? Only 10% of women are investing in Blockchain. Ladies, invest in Blockchain to be included! So it’s purely women’s responsibility? No, it’s a mindset problem for women and men alike.
Venture capital for women?
In 2017, women-owned companies received only 2.2% of total venture capital (VC) funding in the US. According to Pitchbook, the figure was even lower in Europe, at 1.9%. According to TechCrunch, this level continued the following year and has mostly stayed the same to date. Other data compiled by Pitchbook shows that the vast majority of VC investments in the UK are made up entirely of male teams. In fact, female-only teams accounted for just 4% of deals in 2017, and mixed-gender teams accounted for just 12%. After decades of the equal rights movement, and even if men are outspoken supporters of an equal rights society, these results tell a different story.
So here’s the good news in closing. Blockchain technology is open source and growing, typically creating a strong demand for highly skilled employees. This suggests that women could find a way into the cryptocurrency and blockchain network. Gender differences are not new, but women with a growth mindset can acquire the necessary skills. The female factor is key to a balanced business model. Especially in a crisis, it is important for leadership to take as many perspectives as possible to develop a resilient position, manage the crisis, and even become antifragile. Antifragility is a concept developed by Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Black Swan. He defines antifragility as the ability to withstand failure and turn stressors such as volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUKA) into opportunities, and thus not only withstand mistakes or failures, but use them to grow. That means black, red, and green or other-colored swans – could be spotted before they happen. Diversity is extremely useful in environments that can no longer be described by systemic risk and volatility alone.
Entrepreneurship and women
The profile of successful entrepreneurship has been male, with women only recently entering the business and investment stage compared to men, minds are full of male examples of successful entrepreneurs and investors: Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and George Soros. Of course, there are very successful female investors – but how many people have really ever heard of Abigail Johnson or Deborah A. Farrington? The same goes for female entrepreneurs – names like Sofia Vergara, Arianna Huffington or Indra Nooyi may have been heard of, sort of, but they certainly don’t come to mind first when asked about famous entrepreneurs. According to Candida Brush, professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, there is, therefore an unconscious tendency that when approached by female entrepreneurs, they are less reliable an investment than their male counterparts and, therefore, not as fundable (Hecht, 2016) ).
What do studies say?
A year-long study in Sweden yielded interesting results in this regard. The researchers were allowed to silently observe government VC decision-making meetings and their conversations about entrepreneurs who had applied for funding. Their findings were that the attributes used to describe male and female entrepreneurs were radically different. Qualities were also judged differently depending on gender, e.g., being young as an entrepreneur was considered “inexperienced” for a woman, but for men this quality was “promising.” Being “aggressive” or “emotional” was positive for men, while for women, showing their excitement led to discussions about their “emotional deficiencies” (Malmstrom, Johansson, and Wincent, 2017). And these differences had very real consequences: Women entrepreneurs received on average only 25% of the amount requested, while men received on average 52% of the amount requested.
Digitization does not differentiate between genders. That’s why I see more opportunities for women here, especially if applications are submitted in a gender-neutral way and the algorithm decides according to the best competencies.