In the dynamic and ever-changing crypto space, women have continually made their mark, challenging gender norms and contributing significantly to the growth and advancement of the crypto sector. One of the leading women in the crypto space today is Gracy Chen, the Managing Director of Bitget, a prominent crypto exchange and Web3 company.
Gracy Chen is recognized as an advocate for women in the crypto world, encouraging their growth and participation in the industry by increasing opportunities for females in Bitget’s workforce. She also empowers women and girls in STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math) education through Bitget’s non-profit organization, DIY Girls.
In a conversation with Bitcoinist, Gracy Chen shared valuable insights on her experiences as a woman in the crypto space and offered guidance for women venturing into the industry.
Bitcoinist: What made you decide to pursue a career in cryptocurrency, especially when the industry is noticeably dominated by men?
Gracy Chen: Honestly, I didn’t think about gender inequality and the lack of representation of women in crypto when I joined the industry. At the time, I was working as a TV host interviewing celebrities like Tom Hiddleston and Michelle Yeoh and business leaders such as Tim Draper.
One time in 2014, when Bitcoin was trading at approximately $300, my TV friends introduced me to crypto, and it was love at first sight. I was fascinated by the technology and the idea of financial inclusion, so I started investing in major coins like BTC, ETH, and XRP.
After dipping my toes into the fascinating (and sometimes crazy) world of digital assets, it didn’t take long until I became an early investor in BitKeep, now known as Bitget Wallet.
Bitcoinist: How would you describe your experience as a woman in the crypto industry? What are some of the biggest challenges you faced in your journey to become a prominent female figure in the crypto industry?
Gracy Chen: When I ventured into the crypto world, the situation was much worse than currently. More often than not, I was the only woman on panel discussions during the Web3 and fintech events I attended with my team.
In an industry dominated by men, I felt it was a boys club, and was unwelcomed and sometimes even frustrated. These negative thoughts were with me during conferences and also when I served as the CMO at a fintech company in my previous job, where I was the only member of the management team who wasn’t male.
As a woman, it is not enough to believe in your own leadership skills. With the lack of diversity in crypto, you are more than likely to be negatively impacted by gender-based bias and the stereotypes female entrepreneurs come across every day. This is probably the reason why women only managed to raise 2% of the dollars invested in VC-backed US startups in 2021 despite an 83% YoY increase in the total amount raised.
I would hear, ‘We are fond of you and your project, but we don’t plan to invest in female entrepreneurs, especially those who are married but with no children yet.’ This was a venture investor’s actual argument against funding my startup in 2017. It was a harsh period in which I was constantly facing gender-based bias while struggling to raise capital for my project.
As time passed and crypto adoption took off, the situation has somewhat improved. But it is still far from ideal, though. With women accounting for only 4.13% of crypto founders and 10% of digital asset fund partners, it is safe to say that there’s significant room for improvement in this field.
I haven’t even mentioned the results of a recent report, which revealed that 74% of current cryptocurrency holders in the US are men. But thanks to initiatives like DIY Girls — a charity project initiated by Bitget in collaboration with Juventus players Moise Kean and Wojciech Szczesny, which is dedicated to promoting girls’ interest in STEM education — the future is looking brighter.
Bitcoinist: What would you say are the most common threats and challenges to women entering investing, and the crypto industry in particular?
Gracy Chen: Despite demonstrated efficiency in this field, only 33% of women feel confident in their ability to make investment decisions. In terms of crypto, I believe this could highlight the fact that cryptocurrencies are riskier assets due to their increased volatility, and female investors, who are more risk-averse and sober than their male counterparts, are less likely to invest in them.
Reliable user education is necessary to overcome this challenge so more women will feel confident to enter the space and invest in digital assets.
Total market cap sitting at $1.352 trillion | Source: Crypto Total Market Cap on Tradingview.com
Bitcoinist: What other financial goals do women pursue through investing to showcase their dedication and care, beyond enhancing their family’s financial situation or funding their children’s education?
Gracy Chen: We have recently published a study revealing that female investors in most markets demonstrate a greater willingness to improve their family’s financial situations and fund their children’s education expenses or tuition fees through crypto investments. These results indicate that women perform better in some areas than men.
As I see it, the proper representation of females within a company and its leadership can offer crucial benefits for the whole organization, such as improved product enhancement and a more positive work environment.
For instance, women are more empathetic in general than men, which comes in handy for managers who have to care for their teams. A more diverse and inclusive workplace with more involvement from women could create a more open working atmosphere where employees are more willing to express their opinions. This is a significant benefit for female staff, whose honest and helpful advice can substantially improve company culture.
Women also tend to be less over-confident than men. From a financial perspective, their more risk-aversive and disciplined nature makes them more effective in investment-related risk management. Probably, this is one of the many reasons why female investors managed to outshine their male counterparts in this field by earning 10% more annual returns between 2017 and 2020.
Despite the lack of representation of women in the leadership of crypto firms, a study revealed that businesses with five or more female executives had the highest success rates (61%).
Interestingly, the lowest success rates were measured among the firms where only a single woman was present on the board (49.32%). However, these figures are still better than in the case of startups with no ladies in the leadership, as another report’s results show a 63% better performance for companies with at least one female founder than those with an all-male founding team.
Bitcoinist: What’s one piece of advice you would give to women who are working towards becoming leaders in the crypto industry?
Gracy Chen: My advice for female entrepreneurs in crypto is to remember that you are not the ‘elephant in the room’ – gender inequality is. It is an industry that seeks to create a more inclusive and democratic financial system.
I believe this original ethos should also apply to gender equality, as we are also working on building a space that is equally accessible to people no matter their gender, race, or religion.
While crypto is a male-dominated market, women shouldn’t be afraid to enter. On the contrary, it should serve as an incentive so we can be better represented within the industry, providing tremendous benefits to the space in general.
Be prepared for stereotypical behavior, but don’t let it lower your confidence or discourage you from becoming a leader or achieving other important goals as a woman.
Bitcoinist: What leadership opportunities for women do you see in the crypto industry, and do you think more needs to be done for women in the industry?
Gracy Chen: There are definitely enough leadership opportunities for women in crypto. However, as men dominate the space, women must work hard and learn how to protect themselves against gender-based bias to take advantage of these possibilities.
This is why I believe market players should join forces and launch initiatives like DIY Girls so we can increase female representation and finally tackle the challenge of gender inequality.
Bitcoinist: Where do you see participation from women in the crypto industry in 5-10 years? Do you think there will be more or less interest?
Gracy Chen: Based on the findings of the same study that revealed that most current US crypto holders are men, women account for 53% of the “crypto curious,” a group that has reported interest in digital asset investments.
Combined with the growing number of initiatives targeting ladies, I believe female participation in the cryptocurrency market will take off significantly in the next few years, which will ultimately result in a more equal space for everyone.
Bitcoinist: If you had the chance to solve one problem in the crypto industry, what would you solve, and how would you solve it?
Gracy Chen: Together with my team at Bitget, we are dedicated to tackling the challenge of gender inequality within the industry. While market players have made significant progress in this field, the problem is still there, waiting to be solved.
Being recognized as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum in 2015, I have a mission to increase female representation and contribute to creating equal opportunities for everyone on the market.
Besides launching and raising funds for DIY Girls, I have created an inclusive and diverse workplace at Bitget, where women represent 40% of the workforce. This doubles down on our company’s position as an industry-leading equal-opportunity employer that is committed to making a positive impact on society.
Ultimately, I want to change the way girls and women perceive careers in crypto. To achieve this goal, we need to research their preferences, demands, and the challenges that are currently preventing them from joining the market.
At the same time, crypto firms should launch initiatives targeting women, which could result in more internship and employment opportunities for ladies, as well as help create more female-friendly work environments.
Bitcoinist: Last but not least, what is your favorite cryptocurrency, and where do you see its price in the next few years?
Gracy Chen: Of course, my favorite cryptocurrency is BGB! It remains the best-performing exchange token in 2023. According to data from a TokenInsight Report, BGB led all exchange tokens in Q2 and Q1. Except for LEO, MX, and OKB, all other CEX platform tokens had a negative return. Aside from BGB, I’m also hodling the OG tokens like BTC, ETH, USDT, and USDC.
In general, I believe the bear market is finally coming to an end. Considering that BTC recently has broken out of the $35,000 level amid BlackRock’s imminent spot ETF approval, the charts seem to show that Bulls are now in charge of the digital asset industry.
Moreover, the next Bitcoin halving is only six months away, which is expected to kickstart a major bull run based on historical price trends. In the meantime, I expect crypto adoption to increase gradually as more men and women are getting familiar with cryptocurrencies and their underlying technology.
Featured image from Bitget, chart from Tradingview.com