Women in Australia are making strides in the blockchain sector and turning the tables on their male counterparts.
Technology sectors have long been dominated by males, as evidenced at the ratio visible at conferences and funding rounds, where although success stories abound, they have been historically lacking in those which report women moving the industry ahead to bigger and better things.
That is all about to change, and it is Australian women who are at the forefront of this fintech gender shift as this group of female entrepreneurs take blockchain to the next step. One such entrepreneur is Queenslander Leanne Kemp who was named by the World Economic Forum as one of the most promising tech pioneers of 2018.
Kemp’s blockchain startup, Everledger, was founded in April 2015 and offers a way of tracking the provenance of diamonds, identifying them, and following their ownership history. She now has 2.2 million diamonds listed on Everledger’s blockchain and has now begun to add art, wine, watches jewelry and even natural resources to the blockchain. She maintains:
“We have a responsibility as next-generation technologists to underpin how this technology will form and inform all of us in our roles as citizens of the planet… There’s an important role to be had in re-innovating existing products in markets to bring transparency and provenance and then also the tracking of their second lives.”
Her company has gone from strength to strength with offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Singapore, Mumbai and the US employing 60 staff with 44% of these women in both leadership and technical roles in the company.
Another Australian, Katrina Donaghy, co-founder of startup Civic Ledger, took her talents to London in 2014 to explore how she could integrate Bitcoin and blockchain into business. She told the Australian Financial Review that on arrival she was surprised to see the degree to which these technologies were already being utilized by London’s large financial institutions.
Civic Ledger was also named last month as the emerging fintech organization of the year at the annual Fintech Industry Awards. She managed to secure a blockchain deal with the Queensland government, launching the startup which uses smart contract and blockchain technology to build tools for people to engage with government. She commented:
“If you just look at the companies that have done ICOs, there are very few women, but if you look at the ones that have been built based on customer validation and actually have sales, well most of the good blockchain companies that are still around were co-founded by women in the early days.”
Gracie Wong who co-founded Liven alongside her brother William Wong suggests that blockchain needs as much expertise as it can get, particularly as its still in its infancy:
“While blockchain might be a newly-named technology, the reality is it’s a combination of existing technical competencies. We need people that are great data scientists, who understand governance, who are cryptographers… and AI experts. When you combine this together in a novel way, it becomes enlivened.”
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