Just over one week ago, World Crypto Con was touting how well-balanced the genders were for their speakers’ agenda.
Did you know half the speakers at World Crypto Con are women?
Lady bosses are taking over blockchain! pic.twitter.com/zsJAoRmYrP
— World Crypto Con (@WorldCryptoCon) July 25, 2018
On Monday, the blockchain and crypto media are buzzing over a series of tweets by Pamela Paige, a real estate developer and blockchain enthusiast who attended the Las Vegas event this past weekend and had a series of experiences that didn’t jibe with this messaging. Confronted with a rash of misogynistic behavior during the event, Paige tweeted her peace to 16,000 followers.
A Los Angeles-based “crypto and pole-dancer enthusiast” tweeted her concurrence with Paige’s sentiment.
yeah the whole thing was so caveman-esque, also, ummm what was the VIP for? lol.
— Natasha (@tashkeeee) November 4, 2018
When women are meaningfully underrepresented in technology at large, that disparity will only be more pronounced within specific sectors of the sphere. A glance of the headlines at any news outlet covering the space will confirm that it is mostly young men at the center of blockchain and cryptocurrency stories. And those stories aren’t always flattering.
Consider the 5,000-attendee-strong North American Bitcoin Conference, which held its “networking party” at a 20,000 square foot strip club in Miami earlier this year. The networking party formally ended at 11 PM, and that’s when the club’s nude dances began. Many attendees stuck around, and professionalism didn’t stand much of a chance from there. One female attendee described being offered ether in exchange for a lapdance. “We’re a bunch of dudes with a lot of money in our 20s. We like naked girls,” New York cryptocurrency trader Jeff Scott told Bloomberg about the incident. “If you don’t like it, that’s fine, but you’re not going to expect us to change.”
This recent anecdote that works to set the stage for Paige’s public complaints. Her description of her negative experience at World Crypto Con ushered in a bunch of comments from men and women alike, generally boiling down to “we can do better.” Among the productive responses to her tweet came from Andreas Antonopoulos, the noted bitcoin evangelist who wrote “Mastering Bitcoin.”
I'm sorry this happened to you, it is unacceptable.
As professionals in this space we have a duty to do better. We must demand a code of conduct that is published and enforced. It is a material clause in my speaking contracts. More crypto speakers should adopt a zero tolerance.
— Andreas M. Antonopoulos (@aantonop) November 4, 2018
Antonopoulos is specifically in the business of organizing and hosting cryptocurrency events, and he has a code of conduct about the type of behavior he expects from participants and attendees. It accounts for several different types of harassment and even includes a handy web form to report problematic behavior, but the policy boils down to this: if you harass people or pose a threat to their safety, you will be ejected from the event without a refund.
Blockchain devotees often have highfalutin ideas about how the technology can set a new standard for moving money around the world. But it might have to solve a much older problem in its community first: sexism.