Why do women struggle to find a place in the world of Web 3?

“Every time I share a technical post about NFTs on LinkedIn, I get disparaging comments from men below my posts. On this network, when a woman talks about Web 3, the criticism is measured, but you can see the mansplaining, describes Léa C., a Web 3 consultant and crypto investor.

On Twitter where the clash is law, it’s sometimes worse for women. It quickly goes from arrogant comment to public humiliation. As a result, they don’t really want to express themselves anymore. Normal. “Twitter is a distorting magnifying glass. It is a digital public space that is very agonistic by default, if only because of language limitations, notes Laurence Allard, sociologist of digital use. We are more in the interpellation, the language that jousts, the clash”. Does this mean that the crypto world is treating women badly? It’s not that clear.

But what is certain is that they are quite absent from the world of Web 3. Whether it be disagreements – that of 20 Mint is unfortunately no exception – or events such as Paris NFT Day hosted on April 12 at Palais Brongniart, it is difficult to encounter a woman and, more generally, minorities, amid a fauna of young white males.

Why are women such a rare breed in the blockchain universe? “The world of cryptos presupposes computer science, mathematical knowledge, cryptography, these are fields that are not very feminine. From this point of view, we depend on the occupational sociology, Laurence Allard analyzes. These are disciplines known for their lack of women” .

Women make up 5% of all NFT art sales

Rare are those who overcome the technical block, it must be said that the technical jargon does not always make you want to. And when some women timidly try to find their way, they are not always well received. “During Twitter Spaces [des espaces de conversation audio en direct sur le réseau social] for ethereum blockchain and PFP projects [des NFT en forme d’avatars qui servent de photo de profil sur les réseaux sociaux], what often comes up are women being cut off, rude comments, notes Cabline*, curator for the Objkt platform hosted on Tezos, another blockchain that notably allows the creation of NFTs. We see it mostly on Ethereum, but it doesn’t really make women want to continue participating in Twitter Spaces. †

However, if Tezos seems more open, Cabline finds that female artists struggle to find their audience in the crypto art world. Men know better how to sell themselves and buy other men’s works. “When artists refuse to participate or feel uncomfortable presenting their work on Twitter Spaces, it’s usually women. And the most prized works on the market are usually those by men,” she notes. Results : the works of male artists are featured and sold better

According to a survey published by ArtTactic in November 2021, female artists accounted for just 5% of all NFT art sales in the past 21 months. However, in terms of sexism, Web 3 is not the worst. “I worked in banking, then I moved into fintechs and start-ups… Web 3 is still in its infancy, now is the time to take the step and dive into this topic to avoid the prejudices ( that are now documented) from web2 are repeated,” said Camille Lambert, Web 3 consultant and Business Angel.

“We see this kind of behavior in all very masculine circles. I’ve seen as much, if not more, sexism in traditional companies, in finance departments that are mostly male, confirms Claire Balva, director of Blockchains and crypto at KPMG France. I saw these actions in the media where I was hired as the assistant to the speaker expected on set… I don’t have the impression that the crypto community is more sexist”.

For this pioneer, the face of the industry has changed a lot since its arrival in 2015 and the two bull runs (period when the cryptocurrency markets experience a strong bull moment). “2015 was the nuclear winter of cryptos, those who were there were geeks, they believed in it thoroughly. They were there out of ideology or out of technical love for the subject,” Claire Balva recalls. And at that time they were very happy to welcome new faces, especially women. They were not necessarily business oriented. Since then, the ecosystem has diversified.

A policy of pseudonyms

Let’s not forget that the crypto movement was basically a political movement that advocated the idea of ​​an independent cyberspace. “He fought for privacy, for encryption. The community is defensive by default, feeling attacked by journalists who insist on money laundering clichés, and by regulations with a feeling of being misunderstood in France, emphasizes sociologist Laurence Allard. If it had remained a technopolitical project, we wouldn’t talk about it, but it turns out it’s worth a lot of money. On this original technopolitical basis, there is a defensive public that feels attacked quite quickly when we talk about it or about regulation. †

But to listen to them, they don’t care about the gender of people. They don’t care about the real identity behind the avatar and the nickname. “It’s a cypherpunk world [mot-valise composé du mot anglais cipher, chiffrement, et punk sur le modèle de cyberpunk]† Essentially they are cyborgs, campaigning for pseudonymity within the crypto community, encrypting transactions, but this technopolitical utopia is sociologically embodied by males, it is combined with the masculine, Laurence Allard describes.

From their point of view, they are purely digital subjectivities, so ordering a genre, a ‘digital sex’, is almost a performative contradiction. And at the same time, in co-presence relationships, we keep repeating: “It’s great that there are women”, we have the impression of being reduced to our gender”, laughs the sociologist.

Communities that support women

But not everything is ruined. Web 3 relies on communities and this can be the savior of minorities and lay people. For example, most crypto projects like 20 Mint’s are linked to a Discord, a messaging platform originally designed for video games, where all the people who support it (financially or not) communicate with each other.

Some Discords like that of Crypto Chicks, Women Rise, Sad Girls Bar or World of Women, which aims to build an inclusive Web 3 through its NFTs and its community, are helping to transform the world of cryptos. World of Women is one of the first NFT projects to offer a PFP (Profile Picture NFTs) project with female avatars. And it helps women navigate the hermetic world of cryptos.

“For example, if you’re harassed on Twitter in Web 2, the Web 3 ecosystem seems more supportive to me, especially thanks to the emergence of strong women’s communities where support and answers can be found, or communities of experts on specific topics,” delights. himself Camille Lambert.

Because it’s not always easy to understand crypto gibberish or grab technical tools (using a Discord, opening a wallet, buying an NFT…). It’s no superfluous luxury to be able to rely on caring people to answer all our questions, especially in a world that often sees women as intruders. The more pedagogy and communities for women there are, the more comfortable they will feel in finding a place. The genre revolution has yet to be made in the crypto community, but it is not too late.

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