An Irregular Path to Crypto
When most people think about working in finance, they immediately think numbers and analytics, and before I worked in finance, this was my impression too. Having not studied a STEM degree at university, I didn’t think there was any chance I would be able to get a job working in finance, and financial technology and crypto didn’t even cross my mind.
Finance is often perceived as an industry dominated by men, and unfortunately, diversity within the financial sector hasn’t increased a great deal since 2005. When looking at senior positions held by women in financial services, the FCA found that only 17% of these roles were held by women. While a lot of this disparity stems from systemic issues, I think a good amount also comes from misconceptions around the world of finance and lack of transparency for what the industry really entails.
Like many people I’d heard about Bitcoin and a few other cryptocurrencies, but I never thought I would be able to work in the sector because I assumed I’d need lots of knowledge on the workings of blockchain technology. What’s more, having studied (non-coding) languages at university, I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up with all the graduates that had studied STEM degrees, so initially I didn’t even go looking for a job in finance.
In the recent survey we carried out, we asked women working in crypto what they wish they had known before working in crypto and fintech, and one of the most popular responses was that many didn’t realise just how important financial technology would come to be, and how much it would impact our lives – and it’s true. I remember first setting up a bank account, and apps were nowhere to be seen, yet now it you can monitor and handle all your finances directly from your phone.
There’s been a huge push in recent years encouraging more women to get into STEM, including organisations dedicated to increasing and promoting diversity within the sector, which is something desperately needed, but I think it also needs to be said that you don’t have to have studied a STEM degree in order to work in STEM. You don’t need to give up on the idea of working in finance or technology just because you studied humanities or arts, or even if you didn’t go to university. There are so many other skills that can be brought to the fintech and crypto industry that don’t require typical ‘numbers’ backgrounds.
Finance isn’t just numbers, and tech isn’t just coding, yet there’s the idea that if you work in these sectors, these are the skills you need to have in order to even get your foot in the door. I think most people have heard about the numerous studies that have been carried out when it comes to the difference in approaches when men and women apply for jobs. The studies have found that women are far less likely to apply for a job unless they meet 100% of the job requirements, while men will apply even if they only meet around 60% of the listed job requirements, meaning many companies are missing out on great female candidates, because we’ve been conditioned to believe that unless we can be absolutely perfect, we’re not going to do a good job.
Arguably, this divide is seen even more so in the crypto world, which is viewed as being predominantly a male-dominated space. Some have attributed this to the stigma of risk which is tied to cryptocurrency, and that women tend to be more risk-averse when it comes to finances, meaning many don’t think cryptocurrency is a viable option. Others have attributed it to the fact that interest in cryptocurrency originated from more 'techy' communities, which, as we’ve seen in the recent pushes to increase female representation in tech, has historically been geared more towards men.
However, studies have shown that due to women being more risk-averse, they tend to make better investors than men, and with cryptocurrency growing more popular, now is the perfect time to encourage more women to get involved in the space, to help increase education around crypto, as well as challenging the notion that cryptocurrency is exclusively risky.
If you’re passionate about crypto or fintech but worried you don’t have the necessary technical skills, the industry still needs and wants you, and really, many companies would be lost without these people. If you’re interested in marketing, HR, project management or even design, these are roles that are vital to the industries, just as much as the more well-known analytical positions, and many of the women who responded to our survey highlighted the fact that you really don’t need formal education in order to start getting involved in the crypto sphere.
There is no one way to start getting involved in crypto and there’s definitely no perfect map you need to follow. The space has grown enormously in the past couple of years which means it’s the perfect opportunity to get involved and really make a difference in shaping the industry, because who knows where it might take you.