March is International Women’s Month and for 2021, the celebration centres around a pair of themes: ‘Choose to challenge’ and ‘Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’. To celebrate, Bitcoin Association sat down with Chloe Tartan, co-founder of Women in Blockchain & STEM (WiBS) and a research & development specialist at leading blockchain development firm nChain.
‘Get all these different brains together and something incredible happens,’ says Chloe Tartan about Women in Blockchain & STEM (WiBS), the research cooperative she co-founded.
WiBS’ aim is to empower women in tech and in particular, women in the blockchain space, by creating and sharing thought-leadership and providing resources to its members to promote their career development within tech. The project started as an internal group at nChain, but quickly grew to encapsulate a broad spectrum across the tech space.
‘Initially, we hadn’t fleshed out the group’s objectives. There were many ideas, and it was difficult to know where to start.’
However, excitement for the group quickly spread beyond nChain, and WiBS was persuaded to expand the group to the entire industry, where it now enjoys input and diverse membership from South Africa to China.
For Tartan, making the STEM professions more inclusive and diverse isn’t just a matter of doing the morally right thing – there are tangible benefits to be had, too. She refers to collative research published in the Harvard Business Review which demonstrates that the business case for diversity should be remarkably easy to make.
‘Science backs this up!’ enthuses Tartan.
And she’s not wrong – just look at the numbers: companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns over and above their industry’s mean, while companies with at least one female board member enjoyed a higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those who had no female board members. Similarly, the research indicated more intangible benefits came from diversity within STEM teams, such as the ability to overcome group-think and increasing the likelihood of innovation.
WiBS is interested in thinking critically about the role of women in the blockchain industry, and it invites its members to think about the topic from many different angles. To that end, keeping the conversation going – either within groups like WiBS, between them, or directly with the wider industry – is important, and also highlights the importance of networking events.
‘Something I learned through the female leadership series that WiBS did last year is that we can’t lay all the blame for gender equality at the feet of the opposite gender. Are there times where we hold ourselves back because we’ve internalised gender stereotypes?’
In an industry where terms like ‘progress’ and ‘disruption’ are token, groups like WiBS are making sure that progress is thoughtful and inclusive, and while there is plenty of work still to be done, the progress is happening.
‘If you look at how far we’ve come already, I’d say we’re heading towards a world where age-old systems are gradually being redefined,’ Tartan says.
‘Through blockchain, the individual is gaining access to resources and representation that have been siloed in traditional systems. We are democratising the financial industry as well as data ownership. The inclusion of minority and gender equality is a logical part of the movement.’
‘We can’t change the world overnight, but we believe that events like our International Women’s Month Meetup are a great platform for empowering women to advance our position in the workplace.’
Sign up to attend the WiBS International Women’s Month meetup on 31 March. You can stay connected to WiBS by joining their mailing list at https://womeninblockcha.in/.