Sunday 12 January 2014

Crypto-Patriarchy: The problem of Bitcoin's male domination

(Note: This is based on a talk I first gave at London Bitcoin Expo 2013)

Imagine a scenario 10 years from now in which Bitcoin has managed to establish itself as an important global currency, supported by a myriad of Bitcoin companies, trade associations, and educational institutions. Now imagine the board meetings of those organisations. What will their demographic breakdown be? Will it resemble this, or this, or this?

It's no secret that the directorships of large FTSE 100 or S&P 500 companies are overwhelmingly dominated by men, and white men at that. This is not just due to random chance, or men's innate brilliance. This is due to our society having a lingering, systematic male bias built upon hundreds of years in which men have had the most access to job opportunities, educational opportunities, political rights, and (perhaps most importantly) cultural encouragement to actually seek those positions. This has helped men build capital, skills and to normalise the idea that they should dominate those industry sectors that command the highest market values (not to mention government positions and academia).

I clearly put a negative spin on that, but I am aware that some people (such as traditional conservatives) see nothing wrong with the idea of the overlord male figure, watching over woman and child (and society) like a sometimes-benevolent-sometimes-wrathful authoritarian god. It particularly disturbs me though, when I detect this domination seeping into areas that are supposed to be challenging traditional structures. Such as the Bitcoin community.

Crypto-patriarchy: Gender bias in Bitcoin demographics

I first started thinking about the problem of crypto-patriarchy when I was asked to speak at a the London Bitcoin Expo, which had an epic line-up of over 15 male speakers. Faced with such a blatant wall of testosterone, I contacted the organiser and asked him why this was the case. He told me that he'd tried, but couldn't find any women to speak. I sent a few emails to people deeply involved in the bitcoin scene and asked them if they knew any women involved. 'Pretty much no' was the answer.

Then I realised that all but two of the 30 people who have used bitcoin to buy my book have been male. This is in contrast to sales I've made in other alternative currencies - such as time credits and local currencies - which have included far more women.

UCL researcher Lui Smyth conducted a survey of the Bitcoin community and found 95% to be male. This rings true to my experience of the London Bitcoin Expo, which felt like - to use an academic term - a 'cockfest' (echoed by Victoria Turk's observations about the event). Out of the 381 people signed up here, only around 10% are women. I used to work in financial derivatives brokering, a male-dominated world if ever there was one, but in my anecdotal experience Bitcoin seems even more male-dominated than traditional finance. And of those women that are involved, they remain hugely under-represented on the panels at Bitcoin conferences.

There are also obvious cases of bigotory towards women in the Bitcoin scene. Check out this comment by a paragon of humility on Bitcointalk: "Most [women] just don't know jack shit about bitcoins, and that's okay... they will just marry all the men who are bitcoin millionaires", followed by a picture of an abused woman with the caption 'Women deserve equal rights... and lefts' (aka left-hooks). Wow. (Update 24th Jan: For further examples of such behaviour see 'What it's like to be a women at Bitcoin Meetup' by Facebook's Arianna Simpson)

Why should we care? A rare chance to make something different

Aside from 1) the obvious issue of injustice, and 2) the fact that there's something wrong when an apparently revolutionary technology seems to receive lukewarm reception from people who make up 51% of the world's population, it's also 3) incredibly boring hanging around in scenes with only men (especially if they're the type of men who only like to hang around other men).

Furthermore, if something is not done about it, men's first-mover advantage will set in. They'll accumulate the capital and skills and set the tone of the culture. And yes, the boards of bitcoin companies will be male-dominated in 10 years time.

Bitcoin's community though, is still new, and it still has a rare opportunity to prove that it's cutting edge in every sense of the word, inclusive as well as technologically advanced (not just something that some people get very rich off... do I sound idealistic?), but to do so there needs to be reflection on barriers to inclusivity.

So what are the causes?

I wanted to get to the bottom of this, so I threw out the question above to that giant decentralised think-tank Twitter. I got a range of explanations back from people (admittedly mostly men). Let's go through some of those.

Explanation 1: Historical chance ('Guys started it, and brought their friends')

Kenny suggested that the reason was that men just happened to be the first to jump on board, and that the scene was built from that basis. He implies a kind of historical path-dependency to the process. We might construct a counterfactual history: It's plausible that if Bitcoin had been started by a group of female scientists at MIT, more women would have subsequently got involved via peer effects and role models. (Strangely enough, in all the speculations about the figure of Satoshi Nakomoto, almost nobody has suggested that she might have been a woman.)

Explanation 2: Inherent masculinity (the 'boys and their toys' explanation)

The obvious next possible explanation is that there is something intrinsic to Bitcoin that simply appeals to men. Tom here actually had a psychoanalytic explanation:

Here's another light-hearted Freudian explanation. Maybe though, there's something to this. Bitcoin evangelists frequently claim that it's an apolitical value-free protocol that doesn't exclude anyone, but perhaps there is some inherent 'male-ness' within the design, or perhaps even within the choice of imagery or language used by the original community to promote it ('the aesthetic').

The more popular theory though, is that Bitcoin is 'risky', and that it thus 'takes balls' to get involved because of its situation, being volatile and semi-illegal. One can imagine men - feeling emasculated by their desk jobs - baying for (a relatively safe) adventure, like a digital version of Fight Club, jockying for position in an ego-driven goldrush. This same myth of 'the risk-taking trader' is what spreadbetting companies exploit to sell their services, beautifully exemplified by this utterly wank video.

Finally, there's the classic "men just enjoy technology more", or "men are just more analytical". This again suggests that the reason lies not in social construction of gender roles (see Explanation 5 below), but in some intrinsic biological propensity of men to love machines, code, analysis, leadership, or pretty much anything that is also strangely correlated with also being able to make large amounts of money (yay, we naturally become rich through our inherent nature!)

Explanation 3: Female disdain for Bitcoin ('why would I want to use it?')

The flip side of the explanation that men are naturally drawn to Bitcoin, is the idea that women are repelled by it. One version of this argument is that women find it stupid or lame or juvenile, and that they have better things to do with them time than waste energy on pointless currency speculation (you find a similar argument with women and computer games). This Twitter respondent here certainly feels that way.

Contrary to the notion that somehow men are more analytical or 'rational', several woman have pointed out to me that there's not much you can really do with Bitcoin right now, and that they're sceptical of it because they're more pragmatic than men, better able to override their own egos and see through their own hype. Indeed, even the much-touted notion that Bitcoin allows you to escape the watchful eyes of the NSA carries with it a slightly egotistical belief that the NSA would somehow care what you're doing.

Explanation 4: The growing culture of anarcho-capitalist brutalism

Ok, so let's get more controversial. Tune and Eric suggested that women are repelled by Bitcoin, not because of them thinking it's stupid, but by the large numbers of libertarian/anarcho-capitalists in the scene, and the increasingly aggressive culture that surrounds it.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy some elements of the balls-to-the-wall bravado of the libertarian ethos, and it makes for a decent self-help philosophy. But, it can also have the side-effect of attracting those who already feel empowered (or who feel entitled to power). Let's not beat around the bush: in its hardest right-wing formulations it is a philosophy for why being individually powerful relative to others is also morally right, carrying a certain brutalism, and a winner-takes-all, screw-the-weak callousness which is more likely to take root with someone already thinking in an aggressive patriarchal frame. I always sense that it naturally appeals to those who feel they are on the cusp of power that they are entitled to, but that has not yet fully come due... like 32 year old men for example.

Let's face it - Ayn Rand ain't a feminist hero. Not only did Rand state that "an ideal woman is a man-worshipper", but Randian libertarianism glorifies the myth of a Greek deity holding the world up on HIS shoulders. Later scientists actually discovered that the world held itself together - and that deities themselves were constructions built by ordinary people - but the John Galt myth persists, and being around so many people who have a belief that the world should rightfully be dominated by those who are most powerful, well-educated or aggressive enough to claw their way up the ladder, probably isn't that welcoming for say... many women, ethnic minorities, or pretty much anyone that's experienced the brunt of being on the wrong side of power historically.

(Additional note 17th January: For an example of this mentality, check out this post by a newly minted Bitcoin baron, thinly masquerading as a story of societal empowerment whilst dripping in triumphalist, patronising scorn for his girlfriend, her 'dumb friends' and the female coffee barista who is too stupid to have 'got in early' like him. Classic quote: "Unlike some of the other early ones, I fortunately — God is merciful — do not have a wife. What I have is a long-term girlfriend, and I’m under no legal obligation to spend any of my hoard to impress her dumb friends.")

(Side note: Interestingly, women are pioneers in the so-called sharing economy, which conservative Milo Yiannopoulos slated as an "emasculating, dispiriting and demotivating" realm of insipid do-gooders. Poor Milo, frightened by the thought of his manhood being threatened by people actually wanting to co-operate and share stuff.)

Explanation 5: The cultural dynamics of the technology scene

Antonie here offers this apparently self-explanatory reason for crypto-patriarchy. He's not unique in holding this viewpoint. It's frequently repeated, not just about Bitcoin, but about the entire technology sector. This is a complex issue that I cannot do justice to in a single post, but it raises the question about whether crypto-patriarchy is actually due to something intrinsic to Bitcoin, or whether it is just a localised version of a much more widespread problem of women not being culturally encouraged to get involved in technology.


It's an issue that this article addresses very well. Consider the imagery of the magazines above. Women's magazines almost never promote interest in technology as normal, whereas men's magazines always do. The key question here is whether such magazines are presenting a descriptive account of the world ("we merely reflect what women want to see"), or a normative one ("Oh, and we implicitly reinforce the idea that what we project is normal, or how things OUGHT to be").

Descriptively though, it's inaccurate that women are 'not into' technology. During the world wars, for example, historically constructed gender roles were disrupted as women took up industrial jobs (leading to a backlash after men returned home from wars). And as Alice Bell and Georgina Voss note, "Whilst programming was originally ‘woman’s work’, it morphed into a male dominated field where hiring practices actively discriminated against women, setting up the straw man of the geeky, asocial male coder".

Normatively, of course, the idea that it's not "women's natural place" to be involved in technology runs into a conflict of interest: It's strangely convenient for men that women are naturally 'not interested' in getting involved in anything associated with power, isn't it? It reminds me a bit of the apartheid history of my home country South Africa, where apparently black people 'didn't have an aptitude' for doing maths or science, so were trained to do things like, um, minimum wage mine labouring.

"Nobody's stopping you": Negative Freedom and the Moshpit Effect


When pushed about this issue, some Bitcoin enthusiasts irritatedly say "nobody's stopping women from joining". 'Nobody is stopping you' is the classic articulation of negative freedom, and its problems are best exemplified by the moshpit. Nobody is stopping you from entering the moshpit, but you're only likely to enter if you feel encouraged to, or if you feel you'll be free of victimisation and subtle disapproval. It's the same feeling a young woman feels walking past a pub full of leery men eyeing her. Nothing's stopping you entering, except that condescending projection of de-facto power the men implicitly thrive upon. 'Come in darling... if you dare'.

I personally love moshpits - and perhaps we need such spaces in society for men to vent their excess aggression - but there's no doubting that they are wired towards disenfranchising women of their place on the dance-floor. Sure, you occasionally get the punk-rocker riotgrrrl who sets out to prove that she outdo the boys, but the parameters of the social conversation are very clearly set by the male action. The stark fact is that most women will simply be barged out of the way, repelled by the sweaty oafs, and just retreat to watch the band from the outskirts.
Moshpits are a comparatively harmless example of the problems of negative freedom, limited to certain ritualistic times and places. But if the principles of the moshpit are found in what is supposed to be an inclusive global exchange system, you've got problems. I think that Bitcoin is turning into a covert form of monetary partriarchy. It may define itself against a status quo, but if you're going to challenge one power structure, don't make it at the expense of accepting another. You don't dig big government and big banks? Why then tolerate male domination?

The myth of apolitical neutrality


The comeback from the hard libertarian is likely to be that Bitcoin is an apolitical commodity, 'free from intervention', that 'everyone's free to join', that 'we're all adults', that it's neutral, and that they have no time for wishy-washy political correctness.

The average problem with the average libertarian though (and by this I mean someone who comes to such ideals not via a critical intellectual process, but because they like the sound of it), is that they're hypersensitive towards recognising overt forms of power - like the bouncer standing at the nightclub door - but have muted ability (or desire) to recognise implicit forms of power, the subtle structures of exclusion that actually do most of the work in maintaining a status quo.

They assume that in the absence of the bouncer there's a level playing field. 'There's no bouncer stopping you entering'. They fail to see that most people will be repelled from the nightclub not by the bouncer, but by things like a lack of money, or a lack of cultural access, or by the perception that they don't belong there. The Ritz doesn't even need bouncers. Those without power naturally shrink away from it. Or, in the immortal words of Withnail:


Indeed, in the context of a non-level playing field, not making an overt effort to include is just a subtle (albeit non-deliberate) form of exclusion. As Howard Zinn puts it:
" ... it is impossible to be neutral. In a world already moving in certain directions, where wealth and power are already distributed in certain ways, neutrality means accepting the way things are now."
When men say that women are just different, or just not interested, it's normally just a convenient mask for the fundamental lack of concern about whether they're included. If the discussants on this forum are to be taken seriously, it seems that women's current designated role in the Bitcoin community appears to be as cheerleaders for the men, girlfriends of Bitcoin millionaires, or singers of songs of the Bitcoin heroes (no disrespect intended towards the musicians). To my knowledge, the only site focused on Women & Bitcoin is The Bitcoin Wife, a great site, but focused mostly on the concept of women as (married) consumers.

And while I've had pushback from women in the Bitcoin scene who say most of the guys are friendly, I also question how much someone could raise an issue of discrimination before being frowned upon as an unwelcome element. This is a big problem in mainstream finance, where women often don't report discrimination for fear of being seen as 'whiners' (why do I keep thinking of Stockholm Syndrome?).

So, what should be done? Combating Bitcoin inequality

The material from this article is drawn from my talk at the London Bitcoin Expo. After my talk I was approached by a man of African descent who was working as the doorman. He thanked me for addressing the issue. My topic of gender exclusion resonated with forms of exclusion he'd experienced in his own life. He'd been standing all day watching comparatively wealthy white men talk about the earth-shattering potential of BTC.

It's important to stress though, that this problem is found throughout society, not just in Bitcoin. All sorts of groups are marginalised from the broader technology scene (for an interesting, semi-conservative take on that, see 'Silicon Chasm: The class divide on America's cutting edge'). Interestingly, one technology area that does have a more inclusive vibe is ICT4D, which explicitly defines itself by a deliberate attempt to include women and poorer communities in technologies that are otherwise prone to being the preserve of elites making themselves wealthier.

It's also important to stress though, that I'm not claiming there is a deliberate attempt on the part of men to exclude others. People with privilege are frequently prone to seeing the world as a flat, level playing field, and it takes practice for them to see the hidden barriers that others face on a day-to-day basis. So, here are a few things I personally wish the Bitcoin (and wider tech) community would implement:
  1. I wish the community would stop denying that there is a problem
  2. I wish the community would stop repeating self-serving dogma like 'women don't like tech'
  3. I wish the community would stop having all male panel discussions - no wonder women don't want to get involved if they're constantly faced with a wall of male faces
  4. I wish the community would make a collective and concerted effort to identify, build up and showcase female role models 
Similar dynamics are found when considering ethic minority youth in countries like the UK. The old successful man throws his hands in the air and says "Why don't black teenagers express any interest in a career in law?". Um, have you ever thought that maybe they don't relate to people like you, don't feel included by people like you, cannot imagine themselves being like you, and mostly view lawyers as being figures of white oppression? Developing role models is vital to developing people's desire to participate.

So yes, can we break out of the passive negative freedom mode of "nobody's stopping you", and enter into an active positive freedom mode, which involves deliberately seeking inclusion, and deliberately building up people's capacity to act on their potential freedom? And, if this doesn't happen, think about how dreary, bloated and conservative it's going to be in 10 years time.

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  1. I wonder how you feel about Wikipedia, which is 90% written by men. It is also misogynistic? I also wonder what you think about Pinterest's 70-80% female users who primarily immerse themselves in cooking, fashion, and home decor?

    1. I did not claim that the Bitcoin scene was overtly misogynistic (and the example of misogyny I pointed out came from the Bitcointalk forum, which I didn't claim represented everyone in the BTC community). My claim is that there is clearly some issue of systematic male bias, and yes, this is an issue that goes beyond Bitcoin (I don't think I tried to claim that this is the only scene that you find male bias). As for Pinterest, I didn't claim that women are not interested in cooking, fashion and home decor - I am very aware that males and females in society are socialised in such a way as encourage them to 'like' certain things

    2. "I am very aware that males and females in society are socialised in such a way as encourage them to 'like' certain things"

      That's absolutely asinine, devoid of evidence, and contrary to existing evidence that shows that boys around the world will behave as boys. If you accept evolutionary biology (ie you don't live under a rock with the WBC) then you have to accept evolutionary psychology. Boys and girls will have different, innate predispositions. This is why there are universal behaviors that extend beyond boarders, beyond cultures. Travel around the world and watch as boys partake in rough and adventurous play and girls partake in nurturing play.

      Boys are far more likely to get hurt because they are far more likely to see if they can climb the tree, to see if they can jump over the ditch, to see if the can swing out over the lake on the vine. Granted, boys and girls can be socialized away from natural behavior, instilled with a sense of fear for snakes for example and girls can be socialized to be more aggressive and risk prone. However, if we do NOT socialize children to behave in a certain way, then we get the exact kind of behaviors you are railing against.

      Basically you are an individual who seeks parity (when # men > # women) and ignore otherwise. You would rather a boardroom be diverse with people from all backgrounds rather than consisting of the people who have put in the time to get there. Equal outcome as opposed to equal opportunity.

      "As for Pinterest, I didn't claim that women are not interested in cooking, fashion and home decor"

      No, but you certainly don't seem to have given talks or written blogs about it either. For you #women > #men == OK!

  2. I mean who cares anyway because Bitcoin is an investment fad whose holders are ultimately going to take a bath on it—arguably this erodes masculine power in some sense if you care but I couldn't help but notice this:

    >it´s the underlying concept of an "erection-like" growth

    And Bitcoin is inherently *deflationary* ... oh dear ...

    1. Thanks for comment Muhammad. This topic applies to technology scenes in general too, so it's worth caring about even if you don't think bitcoin is important

    2. Perhaps my intent wasn't quite clear.

      "it´s the underlying concept of an 'erection-like' growth"

      I've read a lot of SJW tosh including Words of Power by Andrea Nye but that really takes the cake.

    3. I think he's referring to the growth in number of coins. He's a German investor. What is a SJW?

    4. "I think he's referring to the growth in number of coins."

      And drawing some highly tangential penis penis penis assertion from it. It's a load of tosh. Right up there with Rorschach tests and such.

      "What is a SJW?"

      "Social justice warrior"

    5. "This topic applies to technology scenes in general too"

      Then it should have been about that. The idea that Bitcoin will be a major currency in 10 years... is idiotic. It was experimental, and intended to die out in a set period of time, due to "mining", since there are a finite number of possible coins that can "ever" be minted, as it where, and once cracked, they become worthless.

      Admittedly.. it has some interesting concepts, but I have thought over how you go about both using such a system, and making it actually work effectively, without ending up with huge problems, and concluded that to get it to the point where its like a credit stick in a Star Wars book, where a "slicer" (their word for hacker) could recover say.. 20% of the value, before the whole financial network realizes the stick is being hacked, and kills the coins on that stick... Well, it has some potential, but.. how do you do anything with it (it would, to really work like that, and still have the associated funds still recoverable, have to be issued by something like the federal reserve, and the total amount, and it associated coins, stored there, to verify both a) how much is still in the account, and b) how much)?

      But, my point is, its a planned obsolescence technology, which the majority of the people interested in it are "not" looking to make it a long term type of money, but just trying to hack out the "value" of what ever coins are already issued. Maybe women are smart enough to wonder what the F the point is? lol

      But, yes, over all there is a definitely trend to treat women as, "Well, they obviously wouldn't be interested, so we are not going to exactly try to accommodate them either." Was even a recent article from one "in" tech, describing how she had to give up on makeup, "women's clothes" and even longer hair, because, looking boyish got people to stock treating her like an idiot, whose opinion was only ever asked for "if" they wanted to "woman's perspective", and who, "can tell when her hair is getting too long, when, at meetings, all the guys in the room stop bothering to ask her opinions, or paying attention to her comments, on the current problem they are dealing with."

      Sadly, I doubt this is, "all in her head", or some sort of mistaken interpretation of behavior, especially since she sees the same thing happening to "other" women, only far worse, who don't try to make themselves look less female. There is a huge bloody problem, not just in tech, but in "every" field that has been almost exclusively male, for ages, and most of the men can't see the problem, have a long list of excuses for why its the way it is, and contribute to the problem, with, literally, stupid nonsense like the above, where women are not allowed input, so they are seen as no contributing as much, so they are not allowed to contribute, so they, among other things, don't get raises, higher positions, or even, sometimes, credit for things they did contribute to. Which, in turn, supports the contention that they are not as interested, or good at, or driven to succeed in, etc., the field they are not doing "spectacular" things in.

  3. WRT the discussion whether women are less likely to be into tech:

    All over Europe, there is an organized effort to bring more women into science & engineering careers. And to which result? I am an engineer, and in my department of about 20 engineers, there are three female engineers - from India, China and Malaysia. I am quite sure that in these countries there is no "Girls' day", or other gender stuff.

    Meanwhile, women in the most "gender-mainstreamed" countries, i. e. Sweden and Norway, are more likely to choose "typically female" careers. In Europe, and especially Scandinavia, there is comprehensive social security, therefore people are free to choose their career according to their personal inclinations. Where no such security exists, they have to choose according to job opportunities.

    1. Thanks for comment Klaus. As a matter of interest, which explanation for low (western) female participation do you find most plausible?

    2. First, a correction to my post: I forgot one german female engineer among my colleagues, but still a massive disparity.

      The main reason for differing interests (not just in tech) between genders? Nature, not nurture. If nurture would matter most, how could one explain the existence of trans* people? Until they come out as trans - maybe only as adults - society treats them according to their biological sex. Nevertheless, society cannot change their brains. They match those of their gender, as shown in MRI scans.

    3. Or maybe the women who have higher education available in Asia are not discouraged as effectively from seeking STEM education as they are in Western Europe.

      I've worked with a number of women during my education and work life, and they were uniformly starkly better at, well, almost everything than I am. Better organized, more motivated, cognitively sharper, better coders, the works. I might have one aspect on any given one of them where I was comparable, but never more than that. For reference on myself: I am today employed on an elite team of software developers, and earning a sky-high salary.

      Now, this makes me wonder: Where are the women who are not quite that impressive? Certainly, I would expect there to be the same sort of sliding scale of performance as among the men. But they're not there. Or at least, they're vanishingly few. Which to my signal-processing mind looks like a cutoff filter. I.e. the women who are not hugely driven, smarter than everyone around them, and capable of moving mountains every day - so the vast, overwhelming majority, if men are anything to go by on that front.

      This entirely fits the social pressure hypothesis: That there is a certain level of social pressure pushing women away from STEM fields. The women who are fierce and driven enough to counter that force, they get in. The many who either cannot push against that pressure, or choose a different, easier path, them we don't see despite many of them undoubtedly being potentially very good developers etc. Hell, if I turned out this well, so could they - I'm not so very impressive, all told.

  4. I guess I am one of the Bitcoin girlfriends. I hold 3 Masters. I am technologically savvy although no geek. I had never heard of Bitcoin before summer 2013 through my boyfriend although I have been online 8h a day for the past 12 years. I would give much to have the competence it takes to really get involved instead of waiting for a later stage where "user friendly" applications will make it possible for the average person to hold bitcoins. It is true that nothing has kept me from spending my teenage years teaching myself how to program, opening computers to see what goes on inside and learning the intricacies of systems. Why didn't I do it? Because no one around me ever told me that these things exist and no one ever made me believe that I could actually learn these things. I think the barriers between women and technology are more subtle nowadays but very much there. If I was to consider acquiring programming skills at this point in my life, I would feel more comfortable learning from a woman or maybe in a group with other women. Men tend to make us feel ridiculous and inadequate - again, in subtle ways, nothing very mean but very much there.
    On the other hand, I think women have to step up their game. We have to stop ignoring technology (except for online shopping, of which we have become experts, it is sad but we all know it's true), get interested in how stuff works, start questioning everything and encourage our sons AND daughters to open any electronic device they can find instead of yelling at them because they "broke something". We as women need to move out of our comfort zone and conquer the new frontier that is technology - and maybe this should start by stopping to mock female geeks because they are mocked mainly by other women imho, not by men...

    1. Thank you very much for these comments Cascado - you make really interesting points about the subtle lack of encouragement, which I think men frequently don't even realise is a problem (because they don't experience it). Also interesting point about the lack of support from other women - that's not something that I know much about, but it would be really interesting to look deeper into potential causes of that. Cheers

    2. "Because no one around me ever told me that these things exist and no one ever made me believe that I could actually learn these things."

      And herein lies the difference between men and women.

      You seem to want the world to just hand you bitcoin on a silver platter. You seem to want the world to just hand you a premade guide on how to go from nothing to being a master programmer without any effort. You want everyone around you to tell you that it's possible to open up a computer or learn a programming language or make you believe that you could actually do any of that.

      Men have no such expectation! Men don't expect to be taught - they teach themselves. Men don't complain about the difficulty of entry into a field to excuse not entering it - they work harder. Men will spend 5 hours a day programming because it interests them! Not because "society" handed them some kind of guide!

      Literally one minute of Google searches will lead you to fairly user-friendly guides on how to use bitcoin. You download ONE APPLICATION. You download a single application, and you're done. Boom, you can hold bitcoin! You don't even need the application, because you can hold bitcoin online! It's about as user-friendly as anything can be!

      But you'll complain about how nobody ever explained this to you, how nobody ever encouraged you to enter the bitcoin world, how nobody ever told you that you could do it.

      Well, guess what, nobody ever explained this to me! Nobody ever encouraged me! Nobody ever told me I could do it!

      I sought out that information by my own will, because I wanted it! And even though I had to expend some effort in order to get it, I was willing to expend that effort, unlike you!

      If you want to learn programming, you can learn everything you'll ever need to know from books and from the internet. You literally never need talk to a man face to face to learn programming.

      "But nobody is willing to explain to me how to learn programming".

      Google it. If you REALLY want to learn to program, then invest the effort. Make the sacrifice of time. Google "how to program" or "programming guide" or "list of programming languages". Do literally anything but complain about how nobody is helping you.

      This is the difference between men and women. Men are willing to sacrifice time and effort to learn about something interesting. Women complain that anything that requires effort is sexist. Men show initiative - if they want to know something, they ask. Women don't ask and then complain about not being told the answer. Women EXPECT society to hold their hands throughout life. Men expect society to beat them to a pulp if they don't work incredibly hard to hold their own.

      And when society gave women equality, they discovered that being expected to have initiative and being expected to work hard and earn your way are not fun. In other words, they discovered that "male privilege" was not so great after all. And now they want all the benefits of working hard, without actually working hard.

  5. Got me thinking about entering into a positive freedom to work towards inclusion for men to look for romantic partners who will financially support them. Do you really think its all socially created patterns or do you see validity in evolutionary psychology which shows differences in the genders which has supported each of them in their survival. Thanks for the thorough exploration of the topic.

    1. Thanks for the comments. I don't think evolutionary psychology or biology are implausible or outrageous explanations - and we should take them seriously - but I also know that people have the ability to 'reprogram' cultures, as it were. I do not believe we are determined (or alternatively, do not believe that we ought to be determined), by psychological trends that may have roots in some distant past. Also, the appeal to biology/intrinsic psychology is very enticing for those with a conservative mindset, because it offers an apparently scientific validation for why existing power dynamics exist (and why it's 'unnatural' for women to break pre-existing gender dynamics), and I can't help finding it suspicious when men tout scientific reasons for why they run things. I'm going to read more into it though!

  6. The "women don't like tech" dogma is such rubbish - nothing to do with "nature" of the female brain. Who wrote the first computer-programming algorithm? Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace.

    1. Thanks for comment Julie - check out the comment I wrote above about appeals to science to justify power dynamics

  7. I guess once the Bitcoin industry really took off and theys tarted building companies dedicated to it, we'll see a man-dominated world. I wonder what other jobs will there be besides the ones included in this article:

  8. I think you're wrong. I love the fact that men still rule the roost, albeit it badly. I like Stacy Herbert but her ilk is few and far between. The long-haired thin beauties who serve as anchors… somehow I trust my sons (students of engineering and science respectively) a trifle more. I am almost otherside of middle-aged (a babyboomer) and I love the idea of bitcoin, because of them! I find a lot of young MEN interested in this, whereas the girlfriends could not be bothered. I feel safe when my husband's home!

  9. Thanks for the post! I love the amount of references you share, it reminds me of reading wikipedia, but with clear understanding, that there is a person behind the text.

    Recently I have been thinking a lot about how gathering the right people inside the community forms its the future. So here are some ideas that may resonate to your close call.

    I do not believe, that there is something intrinsically wrong with the prevailing quantity of the men in some walks of life. To be honest, the idea of getting more women in any kind of social experience seems rather sexist to me (but it’s the topic for another conversation). I think, 95% of man is just a marker, quite informative though. Apparently, it shows that you have people in the community, who like to build castles around them and it is hard to get in for anybody who is not connected to the “dark financial sector” (not a matter of gender).

    In case you wanted to empathically explore how the system works for other users, imagine a walk of life you have never considered to get into and have no connections with. I assume you never wanted to join 13 years old girls' pajama party, let's refer to it as 13YOGPP, it sounds cooler and more exclusive. My first point is you probably don't have any desire to get involved. That's fair enough! It’s the first time someone offers you to consider this situation and it's totally out of your range of interests. Why? Maybe, you just do not have a lot of 13 years old girls around to mention how great it is to? Curiosity is the main reason to learn something new, but when you do not have even weak ties with the community, the odds you'll hear about the 13YOGPP go down to 0. You will become interested with even less probability. I don't think that the inequality you're talking about is the matter of initial quantitative privilege concerning men, but that it is a matter of how the information is being spread. The word of mouth is circling around the people from financial community, which is well known to be patriarchal. Even the doorman's story you mentioned started its journey from the REPEATED discussion of Bitcoin around him. Firstly, how many people like him, who don’t boil in that financial cauldron, repeatedly hear about Bitcoin? And the other question is, how many women repeatedly hear about Bitcoin in general conversations?

    The second point I can demonstrate on our amazing 13YOGPP starts with the assumption that you do want to join for some reason. What do you do then? I would try to get into the community, which requires quite a lot of effort, hence, proportional amount of desire. It is likely that your determination won’t compete with all the interesting things you hear from your surroundings, which you get easier access to and more social benefits from (no one in your surroundings is interested whether you went to 13YOGPP or not). Can you see the vicious circle? We are coming back to the existing male dominated social environment.

    So, finally, I believe that spreading of information flow logically brought the community to the point where it currently stands. All you need to do with it is change the basis by changing the direction of the flow. Spread the word of mouth to people you’d like to see in the community instead of saving it inside your social group. It may work :)

    1. Thanks for the great comment Olga. There are obviously similar dynamics in many exclusive social groups. The reasons I don't enter a 13 year old girls party may be similar to the reasons why I don't enter a Hindu temple where everyone speaks Hindi - I don't feel like I 'belong' and I'd have to exert comparatively more effort than someone who does feel like they do belong.

      Your example of the 13YOGPP though, is one which has limited implications for societal power - it's not like my exclusion from that pajama party really disempowers me over time. Being subtly excluded or discouraged from entering something like a technology community, or a political community, or a business community though, has far bigger implications for distribution of power in society. But yes, you are right that a desire to join a community has to be constructed over time, and will be supported only if there are many people around you who constantly talk about that and encourage you to get involved

    2. Hi Brett. I had no aim to compare 13YOGPP to tech or business community in terms of its impact on power distribution in society. That was an attempt to find something you completely disconnected from on the level of personal communication. Sorry if I actually made you think why you don’t belong there. My theories are hard to explain without the context of my personal experience, since most of them are empirical.

      Based on your comments, I assume that you seriously think that encouragement is a useful social tool. It took me some time to translate ‘now I feel like I am 13’ to the speakable ideas. Two things about it made me look as the woman on the ecard posted by you: encouragement is usually used as substitution for information, and encouragement is not a conversation between two equal parts. The former makes it absolutely useless, even harmful, for the society, especially in the long run and the latter convinces encouraged in being weak. Encouragement should exists in some form, but I would characterise its current usage with one of my favourite Russian saying 'to hit the nails with the microscope’.

      There are few thought about it and my answer on 'the cockfest situation'. It won’t be short though, I will have to lessen encouragement value (in the meaning it is been used at the moment) along the way and introduce my idea on how wo/men get the information from the outside world. Another disclaimer: I don't like gender-based division, but I will let it be for now to illustrate the idea better.

    3. Passive Information Source = Silver Platter

      Unfortunately, constant encouragement of my teachers and family to get a Math degree mattered a lot to my teenage brain, so I entered the Mathematical department after school. That form of care slowly eliminated me as an active part of the decision. Just as many people I lacked the information to make my own decision, and future was presented to me through experience of the other people (aka I was encouraged). Typical and the only environment where encouragement works. What could have helped me to make my own decision is information, but not any kind of it, I decided to call it The Passive Information Source (and I’m too lazy to type it all the time, so PInSo).

      Looking back at the school years, men of my age would recall sitting with their friends hacking the logic of computer games with speedruns or having a bit more hardcore competitions like writing virus, which opens floppy disk drive. Even if you were not the one doing it, you have got a vital information that people like you are capable to. We keep getting that information throughout our life through the social groups we are in (not deliberately). This is what I call passive information source. It has two functions - to tell you that 'you can do it' due to the short distance with the person who actually does and to constantly deliver unfiltered information in a gentle way, socialising. This is where boys painlessly learn to experiment with computers and be interested in tech, while the information and experience stays in their gender group. You won’t mention in a general conversation with a woman, that you mine Bitcoin, will you? It may sound silly, but this is the root of all evil. On the other hand, girls’ gender group usually get the source of information about fashion, for instance (it depends, of course, I’m talking about typical situation). I believe that due to that passive information centers, the main gender-profession groups are formed in adulthood. It usually takes a lot of effort to plug in, if you didn't have an easy social access to the variety of information from the field. Few times I was left with the necessity to get everything through the educational system(or internet), it works very slowly and requires huge amount of effort.

      People are usually get that passive information source not deliberately, and then we hear these stories, starting with 'I was lucky to meet Mr.A and it changed my life completely...’ In this case I admire what occupytours do, they seem to be on the right way to deliver the information just in the way it can be accepted by people, who lack the passive information source in this field. By the way, if you look at gender distribution at their tours, I believe it should be around 50/50(?), different age groups etc.

    4. Back to Encouragement.

      Women (just as all the other people) hardly ever need an encouragement, they need a passive information source. It is harder to create than a message 'let's encourage women in tech', but it builds the only good message - listen to others, make decisions by yourself. Now, when people are constantly talking about encouragement as a life west for others, we perceive that concept as an action for good. Usually people are blindfolded with their desire to help, incapable to understand that it’s just social rails, which lead to the deadend in most cases.
      I have seen a lot of unhappy woman, who were encouraged to do Math in childhood driven by woman-in-tech ambitions of their parents and teachers or desire to be unique. Even though they are brilliant programmers, they are now experiencing backfire of social prejudice created around tech. Apart from the fact that money came to the scene, when they had got success in profession, now they are being discouraged to change the major by woman-in-tech people. I heard a lot of 'Ooooh, you are doing design now. Sure, math is too complicated for you', since I’ve started working as a designer (from both woman and man). Not as many people, I am lucky to have a good level of resistance for both encouragement and discouragement to not being bothered with these extremely helpful comments. It currently works as a formula - if you can do math && you are woman = you have to do math, otherwise, if you don’t do math = you can’t. I used to teach mathematics and I’m 100% sure that anyone is able to deal with math or programming, but it doesn't mean that they have to.

      Moreover, I would point out that encouragement is not a conversation between two equal parts, it presumes that the subject’s experience is more beneficial that the one of the object (wrongwrongwrongwrong). Woman are usually been put in this cognitive dissonance been protected, but not treated as equals at the same time (‘nothing very mean, but almost there’ is another form of it). On the other hand, encouragement makes reverse action on bepety-bopety type of men. They feel that big-to-weak message in the word encouragement and start to push back. In their universe the society is trying to make them help less fortunate (encourage woman). All the mechanisms bep-bop is going to use in his everyday life, is concealed games rather than straight actions against woman. These subtle mechanisms require new approaches and division on man and woman doesn’t help to lessen be-bo’s input into society, it is able to deal only with straightforward actions.

      Discouragement can't be cured by seemingly opposite action - encouragement, but it also can't compete with own experience. People who lack personal experience will start reminding the one gained from the passive informational source. When contradiction occurs, the main magic here is that they start questioning what is right, this seeds of doubt lead to independent thinking. Independent thinking scares people who may try to discourage.

    5. You Won’t Scare a Woman With Bitcoin.

      As for the wo/men and Bitcoin community, I believe that the main reason is lack of passive info source. It is not any of your suggestions, otherwise I wouldn’t spend so much time writing thousands of words. I finally made a conclusion that Bitcoin community is not exclusive, by the way, it just do not let the passive information spread beyond created borders. It is a closed info system in terms of real life communication (real life bit is the most important one). I suppose that it is possible to take the mechanism that works to split up people by gender and find a way to direct it backwards. Providing PInSo, as I see it now, the best and the only way to make informational borders rust with time (and the abbreviation sounds funny to me, which it's advantage).

  10. Thanks, Brett, for a very well referenced piece.
    I must say, that as someone who lives bitcoin, there is a growing number of women on the scene (still under 10%). I want to raise a question though. Do you think this is a man/woman issue, or maybe due to ancap/volatility of the market, maybe a testosterone issue? Using extreme sport as a metaphor.

    1. Hi SatoshiP, sure - there may be an element of the risk/thrill factor at play. Of course, 'risk' is a subjective concept - for example, if you already have a lot of cash, it isn't actually that scary to lose a percentage of it. Maybe men like the media perception that it's risky, and like the idea of being 'risk-takers', but you've also got to ask which men actually end up doing this - from my experience of financial markets, many of the so-called 'risk-taking traders' don't take that much risk at all, because they're comparatively well-off and only risk a small percentage of their own wealth, or else feel that a loss wouldn't actually hurt them that much because they have access to other jobs and sources of income if they do fail. It would be interesting to see how 'risk-taking' men were in the situation where a loss actually meant ruining yourself and truly falling out of the bottom of society. I suspect people with fewer implicit safety nets for future income (e.g. ethnic minorities and many women) probably appear more 'risk averse' because they have more to lose

    2. I think this sums it up: bitcoin is challenging the monetary system and should inherently challenge the patriarchy nature of global finance too. Well said!

    3. Really interesting discussion. My ex-girlfriend forwarded me this (very good) article this morning, and I've written a (sort of) response and submitted it to for publishing. Hopefully it won't take them too long to put up *cross fingers*

    4. Cool Richard, please post link if you get it on there

  11. I tried to tell my cousin (a woman) and two sisters about bitcoin beginning in 2011. They all told me they would not touch bitcoin because it was "too risky".

    It's a commonplace that most women are (far) more risk than most men. And please don't tell me it's because men are "trained" to be riskier than women. That's just ideological silliness. Insurance actuarial tables tell all.

    1. I agree and I am a woman. And no I don't hate my own sex, I just think that the kind of affirmative action being applied is so very false. I love my friends and mostly they think the same way as I do. But then we didn't marry thugs who hurt and destroy.

  12. I meant "most women are (far) more risk AVERSE than most men. "

    1. Thanks for comments Staff - see my comments above about risk (in Satoshi Pollen's post)

  13. Thank you, Brett, for bringing this topic up. I have experienced the same attitude when trying to raise awareness on the lack of women in our hackerspace. "Nobody is stopping them", "we have no time for wishy-washy political correctness.". Here is my collection on Women in Tech, I'll add your article to it!

  14. There's nothing new about this, and it shouldn't be surprising. There are few women involved in Bitcoin for the same reason there are few female computer scientists, and few women in IT and few female mathematicians, at least in the West. In our society, women are brought up (or "socialized") in such a way that any interest in math, science, computers or related fields are, at best, not encouraged, at worse, actively discouraged. And that's assuming girls manage to get through their childhood, while actually managing to maintain *some* interest in these areas, without already having it completely drilled out of them. Which is almost impossible given the modern media saturation of almost all aspects of life. Even with the benefit of the most positive, progressive parents, who are often almost powerless in the face of such an onslaught. Have you read a teen magazine lately?

    This has absolutely nothing to do with Bitcoin, but plenty to do with plain simple Patriarchy.

    Of course you always get the arguments that women are less inclined towards certain fields than men, or that men are naturally better at certain things than women. In fact, these views are so widespread that they are almost taken for granted by many. Indeed, scientists actually spent decades researching *why* women were worse at math than men, without ever questioning the initial assumption that such an idea was even true. Only later when the perspective was widened and other cultures were examined, did it became clear that in some cultures women performed better at math than men, meaning the difference had nothing to do with biology.

    Whenever you hear someone say "women are like this" or "men are like this", the statements they are making might actually sometimes have a grain of truth, generally, but *only* within a given culture. Even there they are obviously exceptions, but the idea of taking a given cultural narrative and trying to extrapolate biological explanations for the behaviour contained therein should be seen as plainly wrong, yet this is so often done by even the smartest men (and women!) I can only explain this as cultural chauvinism, or simple ignorance.

    I think it's great that you have brought this up, however, since it might result in at least a little self-examination and perhaps a bit more awareness that we still do live in a Patriarchal society.

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for the great comment - I agree with your points, and I think there's an excellent case to be made that, on average, there are gender roles that are inculcated into people which then gets reflected in their view about what is 'normal' for them to get involved with. Of course people have the ability to override dominant trends (e.g. the guy that becomes a ballet dancer even though his friends hurl abuse at him), but it's generally not the most likely route. That said, while cultural constructions of gender do probably form that backdrop to male monopolisation of BTC, I do think there is still merit in the other bitcoin-specific explanations I gave as well

    2. Wow, what a triumph to apply your ideology. You could use it to reveal the hidden insights about a colony of mushrooms just as well. What tendency of society are you really talking about, though? Women do easier work, men work harder. Women have value automatically, men are nothing unless they earn it. Do you women-worshipers honestly want to change this arrangement by finding ways to make women worthless like in the East, where women do indeed hold their own better in technical fields? Oops, those poor women are suffering under penisarchy too, a perpetual grievance for you to address, even in a lesbian society.

  15. I bookmarked this before finishing, loved it. Your writing is clear and powerful, the post is greatly sourced. Thank you so much.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thanks for observations Lily. I didn't really make an explicit claim to be countering sexism in a tech subculture - I was relaying my experience of the situation, and suggesting it's something the community should think about. I also never claimed that I'm free from sexism, or heterosexism (I was actually brought up in South Africa, a far more sexist macho culture than the average BTC meetup. Indeed, my dad was a special forces soldier, and I've experienced the world of mercenaries, white supremacists and aggro nationalist culture, which make the more implicit forms of exclusion one finds in tech scenes look comparatively mild - albeit I believe the implicit forms of exclusion can be equally damaging). I'm trying to learn about and grapple with these issues for myself, and hopefully that helps others too. Is that a good enough mansplanation for you?

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Could there be a connection to the political Right / Left gender gap?

    1. Something to investigate further definitely - relates to Explanation 4 offered in the article

  18. I just wanted to throw out my personal anecdote. When i first heard about bitcoin, it sounded awesome, but I didn't even consider getting into it because I was exhausted from getting up eight times a night with my baby, which I was doing because my husband makes more money so I took on childcare while he continued working. I think broader cultural problems like gender inequality with childcare and baby-unfriendly businesses are interwoven in the women-in-tech issue.

    1. Thanks for the observations Eva. Important point. Businesses frequently treat their employees family lives and obligations as an irrelevant annoyance, and this definitely hits women hardest

  19. "You seem to want the world to just hand you bitcoin on a silver platter. You seem to want the world to just hand you a premade guide on ..."

    Wow.. Who let the village... well, who let this one out of the cage. There isn't one single bloody bit of fact in the vast sea of personal opinion, un-noticed privilege, and general ignorance in your whole post. You sound like a bloody libertarian, whining about how everyone else can succeed like they did, all they had to be was male, white, in a well off family, with good teachers, attentive parents, the right sort of friends, easy access to college loans, and.. well.. **nothing handed to them at all, really**!

    Buy yourself a clue. I am sure you can find the spare change.

    1. Hi Kagehi - I agree - but you can post this directly under bippety boppity's comment so that he sees it - hit 'reply' under his post

    2. You, on the other hand, couldn't succeed with all of those factors. Congratulations, maybe you are gay?

  20. Help is at hand:

    1. Ha ha, that's really cool - that's the kind of cultural precedent that needs to happen more

  21. This is one thing I love about Bitcoin. You can whine all you like but there are no government "diversity" bureaucrats who can come and redistribute the pie here. Perhaps there will be a parallel economy without layabouts and gender/race/etc. nags and leeches! Eric Holder can shake down big banks each years for billions of dollars with entirely phony "disparate impact" lawsuits all he likes but good luck doing that with Bitcoin!

    1. Thank you for your white male comment. You're assured a place in in the long, proud historical register of people who never gave a shit, and for that you can be happy

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Yeah, only people with less clue about reality are the ones that think, "Inflation is caused by the minimum wage". Even Forbes is smart enough to have avoided that idiot suggestion when writing an article on the subject, but, being a magazine for rich investment banker types, they missed the rather glaring one - When someone hoards all the money, there is less for everyone else, which means you have to print more of it, which is worth less, in terms of real goods as a result. But, this is hardly surprising, coming from people who will, in practically the same issue, talk about "job creators", and "reinvestment", as well as offshore accounts, over seas jobs, and how, if at all possible, you should **never** invest your own money, instead of someone else's, in a new venture.

      I.e. - Keep your money some place else, create jobs where labor is cheap, and make someone else pay for it, so you keep as much money as you can, without ever spending it. But, yeah, that has "no" effect on the economy, or inflation...

      It would be way different if the Stuck Mud's, when in the money did what the otherwise useless sports stars do, and blow every dime they make, then have to spend the rest of their lives flipping hamburgers, like everyone else. Then, their money would actually "trickle down" back into the bloody economy. Instead, the only thing it ever trickles down is a sewer grate.

    4. Brett Scott can't make an argument without playing the race or gender card. He's a self-hating mangina and a leftist toadie for his femifascist masters. IOW: he has nothing to back up his BS except to attack his critics Keep preaching the truth, Stuck Mud.

    5. I think you changed my post. I'm pretty sure that I didn't use exclamation marks, and that I didn't make that typo ("year" not "years").

  22. The first time I met Bitcoin was when I bought some interesting services from shady merchants in the wonderful place of Deep Web. Could the fact that the birth of Bitcoin is tied to hidden, illegal activities like child porn, narcotics and murder-for-hire be the reason why the forerunners in TBC scene were mostly men and that the image of TBC hasn't been the most feminine one? The newer cryptocurriencies have more healthy and friendly public echo and are far more approachable for normal people.

  23. If women spent less time time and effort bemoaning "underrepresented" social arenas and just went out and DID things (what a concept!) they might find themselves "represented" in more areas. Waiting to be "encouraged" is infantile behavior for grown women.

    Get back to us when women are refused access to Bitcoin. Until then, quit yer bitchin'.

  24. 1) "I did not claim that the Bitcoin scene was overtly misogynistic..." Yet your article is overtly Misandric, for example...
    2) "One can imagine men - feeling emasculated by their desk jobs..." Eh-hem, "one" could say they also write articles like this.
    3) "Randian libertarianism glorifies the myth of a Greek deity holding the world up on HIS shoulders..." WRONG. That symbol embodies the "John Galts" of the world JUST PRIOR to throwing down that world which their predecessors (and they themselves) created out of their imaginative minds from the dust-of-the-earth by means of the sweat-of-their-brows.
    4) These Men, the creators [vs. the world's complainers (such as you) & moochers] are the REASON & the OBJECT that that "ideal woman" worships.
    5) John Galt (and, I'm so bold to state, his real world ideological counterparts) never wanted to "dominate the world;" he simply wanted to be FREE to be excellent, free from the domination of the supremely Stoopid State, in all its iterations (through the ceaseless theft of local/State/Federal/global-taxations and hobbling of dictatorial, bureaucratic-empowering regulation). Seriously, have you even read "Atlas Shrugged," or did you just see 2 parts of the 3-part movie adaptation?" The fictitious Galt establishes his own state-free Shangri-la, disproving your ludicrous contention.

  25. This is probably the most retarded article I've ever read.

    To the author: Please, get the most vicious form of cancer and die.
    Please, I beg you. Either that or kill yourself. Please.

  26. Hi Brett, what a great article. Thanks for writing it. And great links too - should keep me going for a while :)

    I like the tweet 'cos it's tech'. I agree. When people hear 'virtual' they hear 'geek'. But is it just women who stay away? What about non-technically engaged men?

    Since I am a software developer as well as a writer I have written a few posts on why there are not more women in IT but I think because programming is not taught in school, only young people who identify with the geek culture get into programming and the bitcoin demographic is a reflection of this.

    Your comment about science-backed racism strikes a chord. I don't think women are encouraged into the tech industry when we are constantly being told we're better at multitasking and men are better at maths. Even if it were true that men are predisposed towards technology, I don't think the disparity in numbers reflects a natural divergence. There are many more factors - as you have so thoroughly examined in the above.


  27. "If women spent less time time and effort bemoaning "underrepresented" social arenas and just went out and DID things (what a concept!) they might find themselves "represented" in more areas. Waiting to be "encouraged" is infantile behavior for grown women."

    And yet another in an endless series of comments from people that have no fraking clue what is actually going on. Here is a hint - they are discouraged from doing things, practically from birth, when they do do things, someone else often takes the credit, even today (and far, far worse in the past), and then, they usually get paid less, for the exact same amount of effort. And, all of that, when someone bothers to pay attention to them at all, instead of keeping them on the payroll for the rare times someone feels they need a "female perspective".

    The bloody dealer is stacking the deck, and you are whining that they just need to play more hands. Get a bloody clue.

  28. Oh and.. Great, another "libertarian" who only gets the message that their are "moochers" in the world, but fails to grasp that fact that a) Rand would hate the people calling themselves Libertarians, and said as much herself at one point, to the effect, "I despise what they have done with my philosophy", and somehow, totally and completely, as usual, miss the fact that she was a) a feminist, and b) equated out of control corporations, which steal everyone else's work, to claim it as their own, then give nothing back to the ***creators***, which pretty much describes everything from today's idiot patent system, to perpetual copyright, to corporate law, in which "employment" is **always** a defacto acceptance that everything you every invent will be owned by the people you work for, not you, "looters".

    But, all you ever hear about from so called libertarian is how the people being robbed blind of their rights, their money, they ability to be anything other than a wage slave, and every single idea they ever personally come up with, while being paid vastly less than some twit whose only "idea" was opening a company, then stealing everyone else's ideas, to make himself rich, are "mooching".

    I thought libertarians where fools "before" I realized that they can't even comprehend their own supposed philosophy. Now.. its obvious that they are merely delusional - they all think they will be Galt, and yet, they are also all completely blind to the fact that the current capitalist system, as it stands, would eat Galt alive, and leave him in an underpaid desk job, while some con artist, whose only skill is convincing other people to let him steal their dreams, actually gets rich off Galt's ideas.

    All I can do is shake my head, and try not to laugh at the people selling themselves out, or cry at the fact that they would sell the rest of us to the looters, right along with themselves.

  29. " If you accept evolutionary biology (ie you don't live under a rock with the WBC) then you have to accept evolutionary psychology."

    Some of us actually read up on that subject, not project our own assumptions about it. And, sorry to tell you, but, this "assumption" that just because women have been told how to be for thousands of years, and can't avoid the social BS that pushes them to be that way, from birth, they are that way "naturally", is, it turns out, proving to be total nonsense when examined scientifically (instead of through the lens of, "Well, its always been that way, so obviously, they must have evolved to be that way." Its just not true, at all.

  30. Hi, Brett!

    I know very little about Bitcoin, but I liked your article and think maybe I have a couple of possible explanations to add to yours.

    1) Women are poorer than men, so we would have less money to sink into weird shit that may or may not actually be useful.

    2) Women are known to spend what extra money they do have on things that they think will help their families --- this is why so many microlending firms prefer to lend to them.

    I think both of these explanations --- that we have less money to spend, and what we do have we are very picky about what we spend it on --- deal with the same thing, that maybe your other commenters and your original post also touched on with their saying women don't take financial risks.

  31. Very good article, thank you! Finally: the distribution of Bitcoin is unfair! That's way generated the Biteuro:

  32. When someone uses gender like a race-card of inequality in a subject of discussion, it should send a warning of the OPs method of thinking.

    Method 1, the easy discriminiation route= Claim that there is a male bias or discrimination against women in a given subject to convince masses of people that men are discriminating against women purposely and methodically. The author may not think this himself but its easy to draw attention to your cause if you can make people believe that "women" are being oppressed in a given subject to then build a heavy support for your agenda. This agenda usually involves gathering as much academia, then media, then political then judicial support to force your agenda on a society in a given area. Because it focuses on the "interpreted discrimination" of a male heavy field rather than the "choices of women".

    Method 2, the slow encouragement route= Fact: There are far more men in a field than women. Thought: You want to see more women in this field. Ideas for a solution: Encourage women to invest or work in said field without any mention of gender or sexism or discrimination, bias etc etc. Then allow women to make their own choices yet again to enter this field.

    So Brett Scott, please evaluate your motives and your thought process in this. I detect a heavy anti-male bias in your writings and a desire to see women involved in bitcoint. Try to drop the bigotry against men and just encourage women to get involved. There may be some men in bitcoin who are jerks but you are suggesting bitcoin is a giant male organization bent on keeping women out. Your wrong, men got involved by choice, women have not chosen such in as great a numbers...yet.

    Do you want to encourage choice or do you want to force people to bend to your agenda?

  33. "Claim that there is a male bias or discrimination against women in a given subject to convince masses of people that men are discriminating against women purposely and methodically."

    Why the heck does it matter if it is, "purposely". A lot of completely stupid things, which are detrimental to progress, humanity in general, and just plain common sense, happen not because someone it "intentionally" doing so, but because its so completely intrenched in people's thinking that they have no idea its going on, and a large number of people get angry, pissed off, and, or, violent, when you show them that its actually happening.

    The issue isn't whether or not people are conspiring to cause it, but that it is, in fact, happening, and failing to point it out, talk about it, or change policy, does not solve the problem, but merely perpetuates the delusion that it isn't taking place. And, there is an element of this sort of institutional, ingrained, below awareness, "Oh, I don't think that way.", while never the less acting in ways that help keep things the way they are, in every social movement, and actual case of bigotry, that exists. Its the residue that sits, like slime, on the bottom of the pond, after most of the pollution has been drained out. It takes generations to get rid of, if it ever is. And, worse of all, as long as it remains, there is the potential of a whole new outbreak of it. Heck, we have so called "freedom lovers" suggesting, in their own delusional absurd view of things, that eliminating discrimination laws would be a grand idea, because.. we don't need them any more. I mean, WTF? But, its precisely this sort of, "Oh, well, people are just making shit up, so they can push for more privileges, not because they are disadvantaged.", nonsense that leads these sort of people to ignore every single real case of racism, sexism, etc., in favor of declaring the "war on prejudice is won, so we don't need laws about it."

    Well, sorry, but.. you have to have your head stuffed so far up your backside that you are seeing light at the end of the other end of the tunnel, to actually conclude that these issues are not actually real. Either that, or you just don't want to see it, and.. any two bit psychologist can tell you that when we want to believe such a thing, we will ignore all evidence against it, and hunt high and low for evidence in favor of it.

    Though, I suppose, you could also claim the other side is doing the same thing only you have to explain why women are lying when they say that people steal their work, refuse to pay them, grade them lower for equal work, or a hundred other things, including their own parents pushing boys to study "hard" subjects, and either not pushing the girls, or pushing them to be "girly", which means chearing, or cooking classes, or a whole host of other things that direct most of them, practically from birth, in any direction, at all, except sciences and computers. And, you know bloody well that even most magazines, TV shows, etc. push this vision of things, and that a whole segment of so called "conservatives" also push it, to one extent or another, some to extremes. People who, whether we know it or not, may be the tenured professor of a college, or the CEO of the company, or the high school administrator, or even the fraking guidance councilor.

    So, frak yes ,there are some people "intentionally" conspiring to push this idea that women don't belong in certain fields.

    But, then there is a vast majority, who just don't see it and unintentionally promote it, by just not seeing the problem, and doing the same things, the same ways, without anything changing much for them. And, they are the hardest ones to break of the habit, since they, literally, don't think they are part of the problem. After all, there are still people out there who are obviously worse, right? Gah!

  34. Congratulations to the Mangina of the year.

  35. "Anybody got theories about why #bitcoin scene is so male-heavy? Feels like giant cockfest, esp when compared to other alternative currencies
    — Brett Scott (@Suitpossum) November 14, 2013"

    If you're so ashamed of being a man, there are medical solutions you know, Brittney.

  36. I'm a woman who works in the tech sector, and I haven't been that interested in Bitcoin although I read about it some just to ensure that I have a basic understanding of it. For me, I think a large part of the reason I'm not that interested in Bitcoin is that there are so many interesting technologies available (Should I make models so I can play with the 3-D printer? Should I work on household automation with Arduino? Maybe I should fiddle around with a new programming language, that's always fun.) and I have no compelling reason to pick Bitcoin over some other developments. I'm not deterred by a male-dominated culture and kind of enjoy some of the competitive aspects.

    I expect that different women are disinterested for different reasons (my reasons are probably not the most common ones, but they are probably not unique - 'lack of time' is an oft-cited reason for women's reduced participation in free/libre and open source development, although this is often linked back to the fact that many relationships are still unequal, with women having more household responsibilities). So addressing lack of participation by women probably requires multiple approaches. People like me are probably the low-hanging fruit, in that we only need to be persuaded that Bitcoin is the most interesting of all the things I could be spending my free time on.

    One of my friends who is a Bitcoin enthusiast (her background is IT and finance) is interested in increasing women's participation in order to increase utility by making it more universal, and has been focusing on promoting the benefits to women who are not already into technical fields. She recently did an interview for a local magazine and launched a website:

  37. Men are slowly waking up to this subtle misandry of blaming men for the lack of female participation in some fields while also completely ignoring female personal responsibility in the issue. Most women don't want equality, they want an ambiguous state where they get all the rights of a man (and more) but few or none of the responsibility for their own actions. You want to be equal? Then contribute equally. Instead of suddenly busting out the pig tails and the childlike demands to have some one there to protect you from bad people. Men have to do this for themselves, if you want to be equal then learn to deal with the hurtles that men face. Having a penis is not some magic key to success, and your rhetoric is quite misandrist in tone bringing you full circle, perpetrating the behavior you claim to despise upon men, degrading men and women in the process.

    Try this fun little exercise. Read the article again and switch the male and female gender roles. Pretty offensive and sexist isn't it? Why is it that sexism against males is ok? Like people who think "reverse racism" is not as bad because it polarizes victimization in the "opposite" direction, leveling the playing field via destruction of others. You seem to be of the mind that sexism against males is some how less of a travesty because it is oppositely polarized. You are perpetrating the exact same behavior you claim to despise Brett.

  38. "White Man's Fault" is simply a modernization of the victorian concept "White Man's Burden"