Moving Beyond #GirlBoss Culture—How Can We Improve The Way Women Work In Web3?

I have always personally struggled with the concept of “International Women’s Day”, “Women in Web3” and “Girl Boss” jargon. I believe the use of holidays and aggrandizing jargon to uplift and celebrate women in the modern workplace can instead serve to obfuscate and over-shroud the talent and success women, as human beings, inherently possess.

Rarely, if ever, have I seen the gendering of male titles or success. To over-employ this lexicon is to suggest that a woman's success or status as a “girl boss” is extraordinary, or beyond the norm of what a woman is capable of.

I therefore invite my readers to imagine a world in which we don’t need to highlight the “girl” in “girl boss”.  Women can have success and be bosses, without their gender inviting a nod, or any attention whatsoever for that matter.

If you think I’m wading into grammatical weeds here to make a point — well, I am. It is from this lens, during International Women's Month, that I'd like to discuss some of the gendered issues prevalent in the Web3 workplace culture.     

Editor's note: All names and personal information have been omitted to protect the women who participated in this article. 

We have to address inequity—not gloss over it

If you have ever been to a cryptocurrency conference or Web3 event, the gender gap between male to female participants is obvious. As of today, 5% of crypto entrepreneurs are female. Out of 121 listed founders of the world’s leading crypto companies, only five are female, and each of the five companies at which these women work have at least one fellow male founder. Equally sobering, only 19% of crypto investors are white women, and 4% are black women. This inequity mirrors non-Web3 industries, where a mere 5% of leadership positions in tech are held by women, and women-led startups receive 2% of venture capital funding, according to recent study by MIDA research.

These are industry-wide statistics, which trickle down into large institutions, companies, and most importantly, culture. It is no surprise the industry has earned its broey-reputation, even dating back to 2018 when the North American Bitcoin conference toted 5,000 attendees to a “networking event” at a Miami strip club.

“We’re a bunch of dudes with a lot of money in our 20s. We like naked girls,” New York cryptocurrency trader Jeff Scott reportedly said in response to the incident.

Needless to say, this did not serve to cultivate a safe and respected culture towards women.  

Recognizing the day-to-day realities of workplace culture

I recently spoke to a number of women working in the industry, mainly at male-dominated cryptocurrency exchanges and platforms. 

One woman, who works in sales at an unnamed crypto platform, cited numerous instances of disparaging comments and demeaning language being used to discuss women. This, accompanied by unrelatable topics of conversation, led her to feel alienated from her team. 

“The conversations circulated around poker, girls that they were hooking up with and decentralized finance (DeFi). I could only relate 10 to 15% of the time. A lot of times, I was really stressed out trying to find out where I fit in. For the first six months, I felt like there was no place for me.”

Another woman reported hearing objectifying language used about other women in romantic contexts, comments like, "I hooked up with this girl; she was a 6 or a 7."

Upon being asked how such conversations made her feel, she said, "I would shut down within an instant. I thought that there was a problem with me, I gaslit myself into thinking I had social anxiety or bad social skills. I ended up seeing a therapist who shed light on the fact that I wasn’t in the right culture. Moving teams has helped, along with connecting with women who work at my company."

Other women reported that seeing the workplace through realistic lenses helped, rather than buying into the utopian optimism that some perpetuate about Web3's revolutionary nature: “I slowly realized that within tech sales, it attracts broey-fratty culture – and it’s not just at (my company). Knowing that gave me perspective," one woman said.

Meanwhile, some women spoke of a certain inevitability, as though the discomfort of working in a male-dominated workplace is simply par for the course: “I feel like it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter the dynamics of a male-dominated workplace. I knew I would be one of the few women — but if there was an effort to have more community-building and mentorship. They don’t consider what it’s like to work in that environment as a minority”, said another woman who works at a well-known crypto trading, lending and asset custody platform.

What progress have we made?

In recent years, the industry as a whole has made tremendous strides towards inclusivity, as NFT and Web3 educational communities like Boys Club, SheFi, BFF and others have created safe (and frankly badass!) spaces for women to thrive in Web3.  

However, we are a long ways from equity, and still further from eliminating the gendering of female success and #GirlBoss from the women in the workplace lexicon. So how can we make women feel safe and support them as they join Web3?  

It ends with us

It's important to take responsibility for ushering in a new workplace paradigm in with the technological advancements of Web3. However, women alone cannot be the only ones working to make a change. The industry needs vocal male upstanders and allies. This is to say, men must call out inappropriate behavior and inequalities towards women in the workplace to achieve a better culture internally and in the industry-at-large.  

Secondly, industry leaders must make a concerted effort to cultivate more opportunities for women. Whether in the form of grants, sponsorships or in employee recruitment, organizations who fundamentally integrate equity into their business plans will set a tone for equity as a rule, rather than an exception. 

Lastly, we as a community of women must resist the urge to utilize terms such as “women in Web3”, “women’s panels” and “female founders' when uplifting each others’ participation in Web3. This language is diminutive and abstracts away from the very thing we are doing or achieving. 

I think Evin McMullin, the CEO and Founder of’s recent Tweet encapsulates this well. 

Source: Twitter

It's time we normalize women in the Web3 workplace by expecting (and demanding) the same level of professionalism, respect and authority we've given men for decades, while addressing honestly the barriers that perpetuate toxicity and demeaning norms.

Isabel Doonan is the CEO and cofounder of Girls Gotta Eth and Sacreage, a Web3 startup working to expand tooling for crypto philanthropy. With a background in Fintech and ESG, she is deeply passionate about the intersection of blockchain and climate funding, as she works to build a better, more equitable future in which everyone can participate in philanthropy.

This article and all the information in it does not constitute financial advice. If you don’t want to invest money or time in Web3, you don’t have to. As always: Do your own research.

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