Meet the Women Innovators Breaking Boundaries in Cryptocurrency
In partnership with Darby Jones
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While cryptocurrency was born in an era where equality and diversity are encouraged in every industry, it would be a glaring mistake to deny that it has a gender inclusivity issue.
Despite that, pioneers Laura Shin, Toya Zhang, Maliha Abidi and Lea Thompson are leading the crypto industry with their innovation and creativity.
However, a new Pew Research Center Survey shows that 42% of men ages 18 to 29 say they have used a cryptocurrency, compared to 17% of women in the same age range.
According to a 2019 report, the proportion of women working in the field—including as developers and investors—is between 4–6%. In other words, at least 94% of the cryptocurrency workforce is made up of men.
And yet, 53% of crypto-curious people are women. The good news is that, as a result, women-led initiatives are proliferating. Here’s how Shin, Zhang, Abidi and Thompson are helping lead the way.
A former senior editor at Forbes, Laura Shin was among the first mainstream journalists to cover crypto full-time. Since 2015, she has become an independent crypto writer and podcaster as well as the published author of bestselling book, The Cryptopians.
Through her weekly podcast, Unchained, Shin talks with industry pioneers about how crypto assets and blockchain will change the way we earn, spend and invest our money.
Captivated by financial turnaround stories, she uses her platform to distil complicated crypto concepts into an unbiased, accessible narrative so that more people can understand the relevance of crypto and blockchain tech.
Shin’s educational content has inspired and influenced other women to pursue careers in crypto and learn more about the technology. By relying on the power of conversation, Shin is building a community of people committed to creating a more inclusive industry.
Chief Marketing Officer, Bit.com
Toya Zhang began her career at traditional finance communication servicing clients such as Elliott, Barings, Latham & Watkins, HKVCA and Huawei before moving into the crypto and blockchain space in 2016 with OKCoin and later joining AAX as deputy COO.
Since she started in the cryptocurrency industry, she has helped build prominent cryptocurrency start-ups, helping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars despite the male-dominated marketplace.
As a seasoned marketing and communications specialist with a background in technology, finance and blockchain, she became chief marketing officer of Bit.com in 2022. In her new role as CMO, Toya has relentlessly pushed for innovation within the company, finding new ways to provide the best user experience for customers at every turn.
Her passion for digital assets and the power of Web3 is a driving force that motivates a number of other women in the industry—something she communicates through her participation in global crypto conferences and events.
25-year-old Abidi is one of many artists who has recently taken her talents to the digital space by minting and selling non-fungible tokens or NFTs on digital marketplaces.
In 2021, she launched her first NFT collection, Women Rise, including a collection of “10,000 randomly generated and unique NFT art pieces” representing women from around the world. With the intention of celebrating women in Web3 and bringing more females into the crypto space, her first campaign aims to reach 100,000 girls by the end of 2022.
Her commitment to the community extends beyond the cryptocurrency market. Of the proceeds generated from Women Rise, 7.5% will go to global organizations fighting for girl’s education in marginalised communities, women’s rights, violence against women and gender equality.
Abidi is a strong believer of using innovation, technology and resources of Web3 to advance women empowerment and uplift females in the tech space.
At the start of her professional career, Thompson was at the forefront of developing a corporate training program for several large companies to strengthen partner relations and increase sales.
Despite building a profile in sales, marketing and high-level relationship management in the tech industry, her encounter with the Steem platform—a website where users can earn crypto for their content—paved the way toward her cryptocurrency journey.
In 2019, she launched Girl Gone Crypto, a platform in which she creates educational entertainment videos aimed at growing blockchain adoption and making cryptocurrencies interesting and accessible to a broad audience. With more than 212,000 followers on Twitter and over 16,000 subscribers on YouTube, she additionally helps blockchain companies humanize their branding to increase impact and attract more users.
In a male-driven marketplace, Thompson continues to push the boundaries seeking ways to propel the industry forward by educating those around her.
It is no secret that the crypto world has been—and still is—dominated by men. Yet, against this backdrop, Shin, Zhang, Abidi and Thompson have made their mark in the space along with many other innovators.
Their driven personality traits inspire those around them and serve as a reminder that there is space for all within the cryptocurrency sphere.
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