With blockchain technology set to disrupt both the technological and economic world in major ways, cryptocurrency—with Bitcoin leading the pack—may very well become the catalyst by which the digital world transforms real world markets. In fact, a 16-fold increase in value in the last year alone topping out at over $19,500 per Bitcoin demonstrates the frenzied growth the cryptocurrency sector is currently experiencing. Despite this promising growth, however, cryptocurrency is also experiencing many issues the technology sector has struggled with for years, most specifically—the gender gap. While Bitcoin users largely remain anonymous, Coin Dance analytics estimates that an overwhelming 95% of users are male, with only 5% female engagement. Why is there such a heavy imbalance between men and women within the cryptocurrency sector? What will happen to the cryptocurrency industry if this gender imbalance continues? And perhaps most importantly, what can be done to attract more women to this important field? First gaining popularity on male-leaning websites such as Reddit and 4Chan and amongst other groups dominated by men such as PC gamers and the cyberpunk community, cryptocurrency began as a hobby that only the technologically savvy initially found interest in. Because of this early wave of men, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies had initially earned themselves a “geeky male” stereotype that may have dissuaded those from outside these niche groups—most notably women—from finding interest in the new technology. Since gaining mainstream popularity, however, the stereotype has begun to dissipate as more investors and businesses become interested in the provocative idea of a currency unregulated by any central authority—and yet, women continue to remain strikingly absent in the cryptocurrency investment scene. The behavioral psychology theory that men tend to take more risks than women is one popular explanation for this colossal gender gap in cryptocurrency (rooted in the common belief that men are more likely to take physical and financial risks). However, this willingness towards risk-taking isn’t necessarily a positive attribute. While risk-taking can end in high success, studies show that the form of risk-taking many men ascribe to can actually make them more predisposed to investing in bubbles—or in other words, if there is a notable absence of women in certain investments, it could mean the investment will not lead to any financial pay-offs in the long run. In order to truly understand whether or not cryptocurrency will be worth the risk, it is imperative that more women become involved as both investors and users. First and foremost, if Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies do end up stabilizing and becoming major worldwide currencies, half of the population missing from this industry will mean a decrease in the potential value of the currency in the future. Second, from a behavioral psychology point-of-view, experts argue that women possess the kind of qualities that could help assess and mitigate risks associated with uncertain investments like Bitcoin—this includes the theory that women are better communicators than men, and therefore would be able to better communicate with fellow investors on the viability of the cryptocurrency market, their analyses for any potential problems, and how best to proceed forward in a more group-oriented way. There is good news—while the gender gap remains large, women have slowly but surely begun to fill it in. With the relatively recent advent of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)—which is the means by which funds are raised for a new cryptocurrency venture, similar to Initial Public Offerings (IPOs)—women are seeing a new promising avenue by which to enter the cryptocurrency game. In fact, in 2017, four of the 30 largest ICOs were led by women, with two of these women-led ICOs among the biggest initial offerings ever. Similarly, Coinbase Inc. reports that 46% of their hires in 2017 were women or employees of diverse ethnicities, and many other startup ventures and currency exchanges are beginning to report higher numbers of female hires as well. While the increasing number of females in cryptocurrency is encouraging, nevertheless there is much work needed to be done to make cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies—and Silicon Valley as a whole—much more inclusive at a faster rate. Fortunately, there are several ways in which the cryptocurrency industry can become more attractive and welcoming to women. First, increasing efforts to expose more young girls to technological fields such as cryptography, coding, and other computer-based skills has the ability to not only help increase female participation in blockchain and cryptocurrency industries in the future, but also the technology sector as a whole. Similarly, increasing financial and business literacy in young girls is extremely beneficial in providing young women with the skills needed to enter any investment or finance pathway they desire, including cryptocurrency. Second, introducing Bitcoin technologies to more female-inclusive industries—such as using Bitcoin to purchase items from an online retail store, or using it in conjunction with social media—would also increase interest in women from around the world. And last, spotlighting women in important positions within the cryptocurrency industry would not only have the ability to provide role models for any women interested in entering the market, but also demonstrate to men in the industry that there are in fact women present within the industry—and they are already making major waves. Ultimately, while cryptocurrency is presently quite male, women from around the world are working hard to turn this boys’ club into a viable, global, legitimate and inclusive currency.  Cryptocurrency’s ability to shape the world economy can only happen with the inclusion of women. About the author:  Ana C. Rold is Founder and CEO of Diplomatic Courier, a Global Affairs Media Network.  She teaches political science courses at Northeastern University and is the Host of The World in 2050–A Forum About Our Future. To engage with her on this article follow her on Twitter @ACRold.  

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.

And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.

It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.

In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.

Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.

This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?

We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?

Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?

Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.

Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.

These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
Ana C. Rold
Ana C. Rold is the Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier. Rold teaches political science courses at Northeastern University and is the Host of The World in 2050–A Forum About Our Future. To engage with her on this article follow her on Twitter @ACRold.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.