By Morgan Chittum / March 9, 2022, 4:36 pm EST
- Metaverse startup The Sandbox will give $25 million to the World of Women Foundation over the next five years
- “It was [International Women’s Day] yesterday, and there were several panels and exhibitions for women, yes…But most of them featured exclusively white women,” Yinkore, a Nigerian-based NFT artist, told Blockworks
As Women’s History Month comes into full swing, women founders in cryptocurrency are extolling gains toward inclusion — but say the industry has a ways to go when it comes to women of color.
The statistics are jarring. Just 69 of the 1,229 US-based crypto companies have one or more women founders, per Rovva data. Only 29% of NFT artists are women, according to artificial intelligence firm Limna. Data from the Kapor Center and Digital Undivided show women of color founders make up 4% of tech startups.
There are outliers, including BlockFi and Bakkt, both founded in part by women. Each has raised over half a billion dollars.
“Web3 will flourish if it’s built with diversity in mind,” Maya Miller, chief people officer at Blockchain.com, said in a statement. “Industries that are represented with diversity of thought, experience, ethnicity and gender reflect their ecosystems and users most accurately.”
But the booming business of digital collectibles has not always been built with diversity in mind, industry participants say.
Yinkore, a Nigeria-based NFT (non-fungible token) artist, told Blockworks she could “count on [her] fingers the names of Black women that are spotlighted” in crypto.
“It was [International Women’s Day] yesterday, and there were several panels and exhibitions for women, yes,” Yinkore said. “But most of them featured exclusively white women.”
Though scores of Web3 startups claim to support women, it’s predominantly white ones, according to NFT artist Oghenetega Akpomedaye.
“The change this year was significant as lots of women were supported, but I’ll say Black women, queer women and non-binary people are still looked down on in the space,” Akpomedaye told Blockworks. “We [have] yet to see how much change has been made in the community. But based on what I saw yesterday, I’d say they still have a long way to go in supporting more Black women in [this] space. Hopefully, it’ll get better going forward.”
The number of all startups founded by Black women — not just crypto companies — increased 2.5 times from 2016 to 2018, according to the most recent data available. And funds collectively raised by Black women founders rose from $50 million to nearly $250 million from 2016 to 2017.
- OpenSea hosted an NFT auction Tuesday. Funds will go to Girls in Tech, which bills itself as a “nonprofit focused on educating and training the next generation of women leaders.”
- The Sandbox, a metaverse game, will give $25 million to the World of Women Foundation over the next five years. The foundation was created in partnership with World of Women — creators of the NFT collection WoW.
The initiative “signals [the] intent to invest long term in shaping a diverse and inclusive space for women,” according to a statement from The Sandbox co-founder Sebastien Borget.
- Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX) celebrated the month by hosting a series of Twitter Spaces featuring women in Web3. The startup announced a women’s group focused on blockchain, which will hold virtual meetings throughout the year.
- Unstoppable Domains, a blockchain domain provider, said it will donate $10 million of free domains to International Women’s Day event attendees throughout the year. The company is partnering with 65 organizations, including Google Cloud and Deloitte.
Jassy Jackson, vice president of operations at the NFT blockchain WAX, said many diversity initiatives can “lose steam or must pivot to adjust to the industry’s needs,” but “this in particular is not exclusive to the blockchain or crypto space.”
“This is an ongoing conversation that needs to be happening across all industries,” Jackson said. “It’s an initiative that gives women the opportunity to express, create and be authentic about how they are perceived, treated and more importantly integrated into male-dominated companies.”
Participation seems to be steadily increasing, however. CoinMarketCap data indicated the number of female crypto investors increased by 43.24% from 2019 to 2020.
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Morgan Chittum is a New York-based reporter covering NFTs, the metaverse, play-to-earn gaming and other emerging Web3 tech for Blockworks. Previously she was a street reporter, covering crime at New York Daily News, and a media and journalism fellow at the Poynter Institute. Contact Morgan via email at [email protected]