5 women leaders pioneering the crypto space
Women have historically been underrepresented in fintech, with research showing this industry’s workforce is only around one-quarter women. But cryptocurrency — a relatively new industry dedicated to financial equality — presents a unique opportunity to build a diverse and inclusive community from the ground up.
Signaling this inclusivity, women are beginning to enter the space in droves, with 34% reporting crypto ownership in 2023, up from 29% in late 2022 — making crypto the second-most widely-held asset. Here are five influential women who are leading accomplishments in the crypto space and ultimately paving a path for a more equitable financial system.
1. He Yi – Co-Founder and CMO of Binance
With a decade-long career in crypto and a top position at one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency organizations, He Yi is an OG of the industry and at the helm of building a more inclusive financial system.
Since diverging from her roots in a rural Chinese province and a path of teaching and television broadcasting, Yi shared her hesitancy to enter an industry barred by intimidating jargon and gender bias. But with her brimming inspiration for the innovation of cryptocurrency, Yi co-founded Binance and grew its global popularity within a few months, drove the adoption and understanding of blockchain technology for greater financial security, and cultivated leadership opportunities for women through trainings and scholarships.
2. Meltem Demirors – Chief Strategy Officer of CoinShares
Meltem Demirors has been trailblazing within the crypto space since 2015, from leading the development team at Digital Currency Group to now consulting at the investment firm CoinShares as Chief Strategy Officer.
In 2019, Demirors entered the limelight when she testified in front of Congress against Facebook's Libra project, a blockchain-like digital currency system with a centralized and “permissioned” design (controlled by a select few entities) that invited scrutiny from Demirors and many others in the crypto community.
While advocating for decentralized finance and consumer privacy, Demirors also lectures at MIT and Oxford on the Bitcoin network and offers a “Demystifying Crypto" course on Skillshare that is perfect for beginners looking to learn cryptocurrency basics.
3. Tavonia Evans – Founder of Guapcoin
Tavonia Evans is a software engineer, data scientist, and “mompreneur” who founded four businesses and developed the decentralized cryptocurrency Guapcoin to empower economic growth and freedom within the Black community. With over 20 years of experience in technology and her work featured on CNN, CNBC, Marie Claire, and other major media publications, Evans has served as a global voice for blockchain technology and its potential to liberate the underserved. She has authored the book Crypto for My People to further help humanize cryptocurrency for its potential to close the wealth gap.
4. Elizabeth Stark – Co-Founder and CEO of Lightning Labs
This key blockchain entrepreneur has largely been outside the public spotlight, but she is revolutionizing blockchain technology for mainstream adoption by making it more usable. In 2016, Stark founded Lightning Labs, a programmable network on the internet that scales and accelerates bitcoin transactions with fees far lower than credit cards. Holding a J.D. from Harvard, Stark has advised several startups building easy-to-use blockchain protocols, and previously taught at Stanford and Yale University on the internet's impact on the economy and society as a whole.
5. Caitlin Long – Founder and CEO of Avanti Financial Group
Previously a 22-year Wall Street veteran, Caitlin Long has been championing bitcoin since 2012 and helped to trailblaze Wyoming’s blockchain legislation as cofounder of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition. Driven by a passion to create a more equitable and secure market, Long established the first crypto-native, decentralized bank in the U.S., Avanti Financial Group. She made the ranks in Forbes esteemed “50 Over 50 – Investment" list in 2021, and Institutional Investor’s “40 Most Influential People in Pensions,” making Long a well-recognized name in the crypto sphere.
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