If Web3 really wants to improve on TradFi, equality would be a solid start.

The history of women in finance and tech, even fintech, is largely one of limited opportunity. There are expectations socially that persist today, that impose what a woman’s career should be like. All too often we hear excuses for why industries haven’t been built with us women as major contributors.

But I see Web3 as offering a new opportunity. It is a space where women can succeed in finance and tech simultaneously, free from the glass ceilings of the past. However, this industry, still early in its development, is also disproportionately male-dominated right now. So I want to argue that we must start proactively shaping what Web3 will ultimately look like, while we still have the chance. If we don’t work to dispel myths about who the main players should be, the old-school barriers to entry will be built anew, with no difference to what we see in TradFi, mainstream tech, and fintech.

Is Web3 all that different from traditional finance?

As a cutting-edge industry, Web3 in itself attracts entrepreneurial professionals who appreciate innovation. No doubt, this environment fosters an open-mindedness not always possible, or even welcome in traditional finance or among established tech giants.

Yet, despite the fact this fresh new industry has barely ripened, women around the world in Web3 still remain largely isolated from leadership positions. That means the time is now to disrupt the age-old norms, before they get embedded.

Research from Boston Consulting Group shows that only 13 percent of Web3 companies include women on their founding teams. Additionally, only 3 percent of Web3 founding teams consisted of all women. That same study found that Web3 startups founded by men were likely to raise almost four times more capital than those founded by women.

This lack of female leadership is already a given in the financial services sector. Research from Deloitte and McKinsey have highlighted that women start off holding half of entry-level positions, but hold just 19 percent of C-suite roles in TradFi, and only 5 percent of CEO positions.

Gender bias presents itself across digital and real-world industries, leading many women to expect, even preemptively fear, inequality in professional settings. And it’s no surprise that an all-boys-club mentality, manifesting as a comparative lack of mentorship and training, tends to drive women away from professional arenas.

The problem is in plain sight. The above figures should be enough to motivate any firm to review and evaluate how they plan to advance women in leadership across their organizations. I hope to also inspire women to take a chance on a new industry, one that has yet to cement its culture, offering perhaps a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift the balance.

After all, addressing the gender gap isn’t a topic of presentation or discussion, but an instilled way of thinking and working every day. For Web3 to be different, systemic change needs to start at the ground level. Given how community-oriented the space is, I’m pleased to see that women in Web3 are already helping other women in Web3.

Web3 has a major advantage: It’s the product of a socially advanced era

I’ll say it again. As the Web3 scene starts to gain wider traction, now is the best time to address the barriers that exist for women and other underrepresented groups in finance and tech.

In these predominantly male-filled industries, it is often the case that women suffer from imposter syndrome and have feelings that they don’t belong. That’s especially true as the male precedent is centuries in the making. Where Web3 differs is its community-oriented concept of a borderless, permissionless network where anyone can participate. This industry has emerged from radical ideas, in a socially advanced era, so I do have hope.

In addition, blockchain-related jobs are opening new avenues for anyone to participate in innovation and entrepreneurship on a fast-growing decentralized web. Central to this greater participation is our evolving remote work culture that caters to flexible schedules. Remote work is widening the accessibility of finance and tech roles for women from all corners of the developed and developing world. No longer do the constraints of sky-high rents in Silicon Valley or New York play a factor in taking on a job, let alone securing the visas to even get there.

That means we’re at a crossroads, where successes in widening female participation in Web3 now can pay dividends for future generations. That’s while TradFi works at a snail’s pace. Back to Deloitte’s report, the firm forecast that the share of women in C-suite TradFi roles is expected to reach 30.8 percent by 2030. Well, progress is still progress.

Yet even to reach that relatively uninspiring goal, everyone at all levels of an organization should purposefully foster an inclusive culture where women of all backgrounds feel that their managers and teams respect and support them. Where we stand now, the representation of women of color falls by 80 percent from entry-level to the C-suite, according to findings from a McKinsey study into gender and racial diversity. Planning career goals and career progression programs that are inclusive of everyone, of all backgrounds is also a major consideration.

I’m happy to see that Web3 in general moves much faster than its more traditional forebears. So let’s hope we can set a precedent that also accelerates progress in established industries too.

Web3 is our chance to upend the old boys club

Web3 has all the requisite tools for fellow disruptors to change the narrative on women leadership in finance and tech. Now is the time for us to create a counterculture, considerate of the challenges and shortcomings of TradFi and mainstream tech, to build a more inclusive and equitable Web3 for everyone. Considering the wide exposure of Web3 ideas and innovation in popular culture currently, there is added visibility for our voices to be heard meaningfully and for our ideas to really stand out. I see Web3 as the next frontier, built by those unafraid to take hold of this opportunity.

Rachel Lin is a co-founder and CEO of SynFutures, a decentralized derivatives trading platform. A veteran of both the TradFi and CeFi markets, Rachel previously worked in the global markets division at Deutsche Bank, where she specialized in derivatives, and is a founding partner of Matrixport, one of Asia’s largest crypto neobanks.

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