skills gap, blockchain, gender
© Pavel Ilyukhin |

Despite blockchain experiencing incredible growth over the last decade, gender diversity and the technical skills gap remain a growing burden within the industry

According to IT ProPortal, 57% of large corporations are either actively considering, or are in the process of deploying blockchain technology. However, 94% of Fortune 500 executives planning on implementing blockchain technology also reported that they’re anticipating problems finding the talent they need for these projects.

Gender imbalance is not a new phenomenon, and organisations have been tackling the issue head-on to bridge the gap. It seems the IT sector continues to lag considerably behind with a growing gender representation disparity and stories of harassment and unfair treatment featuring in the front pages of newspapers around the world.

Are women being pushed out of blockchain?

The introduction of blockchain is a high priority for businesses looking to improve their productivity and success against competitors. However, there’s a hold up in the deployment of the tech because skilled talent is in short supply.

Like the majority of areas in IT, blockchain has adopted an unconscious bias toward men. This stigma is nothing new; even though women have equal qualifications, certifications, and experience, they are often overlooked. When women do begin careers in IT, they are twice as likely to leave those jobs and drop out of the sector entirely.

‘Blockchain bros’ have made the sector their home, and machismo has crept into a few tech workplaces, leading some women to avoid a career in the industry altogether, further depleting the numbers in the workforce.

Research by Longhash found that only 14.5% of blockchain start-up members are women and only 7% of blockchain executives are women. This situation is forcing CEOs and hiring managers to come up with their own solutions to the problem, but with research showing that fewer than 1 in 10 women work as a developer, it looks as though they’ll need to think outside the box.

Women want to make an impact in blockchain but they face a sea of men when walking onto a development floor. Despite this significant underrepresentation, women are determined not to be forced out of the sector, with those already in high-powered roles pushing to see more female employees at the helm of a business.

Shifting the industry’s view of women in blockchain

For views to be changed in blockchain, there needs to be a rethink across the entire IT sector. Only then will a business be able to fully address the technical skills gaps that are plaguing their workforce.

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to the problem, and if you don’t take a long, hard look at your business and hiring practices, including how you communicate and advertise your roles, you’ll be left with more women who are joining the mass exodus from the sector due to a lack of equal opportunities and representation.

Female role models are the starting point that every business can promote. The more women who are recognised as business leaders, the better chance you have of attracting young girls into the sector as they’ll have an inspirational force empowering their career choice.

Young girls also need to be offered encouragement when studying STEM subjects at school. These early years can drastically influence their chances of entering into blockchain roles and the IT sector. According to Microsoft, there is a five-year period between the ages of 11 and 16 where young women drop out of STEM classes. During this time, parents and teachers can have a huge impact on the decision-making process when it comes to pursuing science and technology topics. Following that, the opportunity could be lost.

Your business will also need a plan to target women outside of academia. This could be through a programme that teaches women to code or a returnship strategy focused on women who have been out of the tech sector for a while. Opportunities such as these will introduce even more top-class talent into the ecosystem.

Organisations could also consider upskilling their current workforce to work with the new technology. Blockchain training is available now more than ever, and this could be a cost-effective, long term solution to bridging the skills gap.

For any solution to be effective, there needs to be an across-the-board education on the negative impact a lack of women in the blockchain sector will bring and how your business can open the door and demonstrate that careers in tech are great opportunities for women.

The underlying issues won’t go away overnight, but currently, it’s clear that fewer women are choosing to work in engineering and blockchain roles than men and this underrepresentation of female employees is something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

 

Zoe Morris

Chief Operating Officer

Pearson Frank

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