Updated: Apr 12
Women’s voices were not a part of the design of the traditional financial system and were excluded from leadership until only recently. In a time of crisis, we’re now seeing the rise of women into powerful and influential roles in finance. Only this year, Secretary Yellen became the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of treasury and Jane Fraser became the first woman to lead a major Wall Street bank as CEO of Citibank.
While I celebrate all female finance pioneers and their achievements in the industry, I’m paying closer attention to who is shaping what’s emerging in rebellion to the legacy system designed by and for men (legacy referring to the financial and monetary system we live in today). The legacy system is being disrupted like never before.
There’s no question that we’re in the midst of a paradigm shift to a new system of money. In this digital age, what money looks like, how we do business, and how we create wealth is being questioned and discussed openly. Digital assets are all over the news and the subject of curious dinner table conversation from cryptocurrency to security tokens to non-fungible tokens (NFTs)…while it’s all so new and people are figuring out what exactly they are talking about, it’s all on the table!
So who is shaping what’s emerging? Which players are actively creating a bridge between the old and the new systems? Well, if you focus on cryptocurrency, it’s philosophical intention is that it’s the people’s currency, without borders. This is in contrast to the legacy system formed by a small group of men in power positions sponsored by nation states. The hope is that what's emerging is more representative of society at large. And what if we look at this from a gender lens?
When looking at the number of women engaging in the crypto space today it lands between 10-15%. This can feel disappointing. Is the gender imbalance from the traditional financial system carrying over to the new system?
I’m not ready to accept that, we’re still in the early days. While the number of women investing in crypto is low, it is growing. Among those who are planning to invest in crypto, 40% are female according to a recent Gemini report. INVESTERA is on a mission to grow that number and support more women stepping into leadership in the space.
What’s super encouraging is the number of influential female leaders in blockchain technology and digital assets. Case in point, 24% of Cointelegraph’s 2021 top 50 from their“ Top 100 Notable People in Blockchain” list are women, up from 10% in 2020. We’re seeing women leading across all areas from disruptive technology to asset management to regulation. Let’s introduce you to a few of them.
Elizabeth Stark, CEO and Co-Founder of Lightning Labs: Stark is focused on scaling BTC. She is spearheading an effort to make BTC payments faster and more cost efficient. Lightning Labs is working on a layer 2 solution that would become the “Visa” payment solution for cryptocurrency. Stark is an active contributor to the bitcoin community and an advisor to startups.Stark taught at Stanford and Yale specializing in peer-to-peer technology, privacy, open source software, and memes.
Lyn Alden Schwartzer, Founder and Content Creator of Lyn Alden Investment Strategy. Alden is a prominent no-nonsense voice in the financial world, hearing her speak lights our brains up! As a macroeconomist, her research covers investment opportunities across macro assets, including cryptocurrency. Her analysis of topics from inflation to debt to fiscal policy to crypto with reference to the historical, present day and an outlook for the future is remarkable. We value her newsletter and appreciate that she writes with both retail and institutional investors in mind.
Caitlin Long, CEO & Founder of Avanti Financial Group A 22 year Wall Street veteran with the likes of Credit Suisse, Long took the leap into blockchain in its early days. She served as chairwoman and president of the blockchain startup Symbiont until 2018. Now she is launching crypto bank, Avanti, to provide crypto custody services. She’s an advocate for pro-crypto legislation and currently serves on Wyoming's Blockchain Select Committee (all eyes are on Wyoming as testing grounds for federal regulation of crypto).
Abigail Johnson, Chairman and CEO Fidelity Investments (one of the world’s largest asset - $3.5 trillion - management companies). We’re celebrating that Johnson is one of the wealthiest (billionaire business exec!) women in the USA and that she is fearlessly building a bridge between traditional finance and digital assets. While many traditional institutions were talking down or sat on the sidelines, Johnson was making bold moves into cryptocurrency and blockchain. She had Fidelity experimenting with mining operations as early as 2014. Fidelity Digital Assets was established in 2018 and last year she launched a bitcoin index fund. Fidelity is putting billions towards innovative technology and cultivating partnerships in the cryptocurrency community. We love that Johnson has a badass team of women leading the charge, we’re looking at you Ria Bhutoria, Fidelity Digital Assets research director - check out her FUD fort!
Hester Peirce, SEC commissioner: Affectionately also known as “Crypto Mom”, Peirce is one of the most vocal advocates of crypto in the USA government. She speaks frankly about the importance of the USA not shying away from but embracing innovation in digital assets. Her role is instrumental in shaping the regulatory framework for digital assets. Her post is until 2025 so we’re watching her closely to see how she handles things like initial public offerings (IPOs) for crypto companies like Coinbase and the first USA-authorized Bitcoin ETF.
There are many more women in the space to shine a spotlight on, check out the 16 women in the "Top 100 Notable People in Blockchain". We expect to see the number of women increase year over year.
What I want to emphasize is that this time, we [women] have a massive opportunity to contribute to the design of the new system not just for us but for all. In order for it to be representative, we need to show up and represent. Not just in leadership also as financial professionals, as investors, as participants in the crypto ecosystem...In the USA, we [women] control more than half of all personal wealth. Yet, we’re less likely to invest than men. Even though investing has nothing to do with gender! We carry narratives on women and money and women and investing that are not grounded in truth. We're going through one of the biggest transfers of wealth with women increasingly holding the wealth. What are we going to do with that? Do we manage wealth in a legacy system designed by and for men or contribute to shaping a new system that benefits all?
I want to challenge all women, what role will you play in this paradigm shift? Will you be a passive bystander or an active participant?
Here’s a few suggestions on ways you can engage today:
Cheer on and empower the women in these leadership roles - tuning in when they speak, consuming and sharing their content, and voting with your dollars (or crypto ;)
Build your knowledge in investing and what’s emerging. If you are feeling fired up by the opportunities from this shift, but are unfamiliar with emerging options like cryptocurrency for example, we at INVESTERA are here to help build knowledge and confidence. We want to support investing in a way that aligns with your values and the future you want to create. Join us for a workshop on April 13 on investing in bitcoin.
Pause when making a purchase or an investment and ask yourself, “Does this support the future I want to be a part of creating?”