BeinCrypto spoke to Lavinia Osbourne, founder, and host of Women in Blockchain Talks. Osbourne speaks about what blockchain offers to women and what is needed to grow the participation of women in this space.
Osbourne is a financial wellbeing and mindfulness coach. She has been working with people to better understand their finances for around 10 years. Her experience in fintech brought her to cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
“2008 was the year I started my journey of a paradigm shift of understanding or having a better understanding of how money works. It really woke me up as to why we’re not taught certain information at school that will help us make better decisions with money as we grow up,” she explains.
“I was just learning about the future of money, and the future of money is definitely blockchain and crypto.”
Women provide a supportive community
This future is still ramping up, and while women are present in the blockchain space, the numbers remain quite small. However, those involved are not shy about being conduits through which others can become involved in the space.
Osbourne is one of these women. Through her work in Women in Blockchain Talks, she is building a community that allows women to learn about blockchain, crypto, NFTs without being overshadowed by bigger egos.
“I’ve had people come back to me and say, ‘well, some of these like more male blockchain groups, I haven’t felt comfortable in, and I didn’t feel like I learned anything because it was too ego-driven. Whereas your group is nurture-orientated, so I feel like I can you know I can learn and I can grow, and I can apply what I learn, and also be part of a community that supports me and I, in turn, support others in the community,'” she explains.
Funding for women
However, for Osbourne, women are already supportive of each other in financial spaces, including blockchain and crypto.
Rather, what is an issue is the lack of easy funding available. This is because of some “old boys club” mentalities that permeate the financial sector.
“In the last couple of years, there’s a lot of mentorship. There’s a lot of support, there’s a lot of empowerment. It’s not that women don’t know that we are empowered. We don’t necessarily need mentorship what we need is funds. What we need is investment.”
Without this investment, Osbourne points to the number of women who retire into poverty, despite their best efforts to support themselves and their businesses.
“They will retire into poverty simply because they don’t make as much. The pay gap, number one, the fact that women will take time off to look after children. They may take time off to look after a parent. They don’t get the same opportunities of men in regards to funding for their business,” she says.
“So then they go back to work. They’ve got some gaps in their work. We don’t have men clubs, boys clubs, or there are not women clubs similar to boys clubs. Where we can just leverage each other’s networks we just don’t have that.”
Capital needs to walk the talk
Osbourne does point out that more venture capitalists aren’t just paying lip service to diversity and inclusion. Rather, there are those that actually put money where their mouth is.
“There are some people walking the talk. As I said, there are some VCs funding minority groups now. So they’re walking the talk to a degree. It’s still really hard to get access and all of that to all of this good stuff,” she says.
“I see a lot of companies that have a lot of money, giving back to the community or helping with the same thing that they are saying is needed in this community to help is adoption, which is education, education, education.”
Education is key to adoption
This focus on education is key for Osbourne. She sees it as the main way women can be brought into and feel comfortable in the blockchain and crypto space.
“Education is the key to create mass adoption to help people understand. So that people are not scammed and people don’t feel overwhelmed.”
For Osbourne, this is where her community-building comes in. For her, the impetus on education comes from communities like Women in Blockchain Talks.
This education is the basis for empowerment, especially for a space like blockchain that can be intimidating because of its mathematics, economics, and technology basis.
“I think that there are too many women, I would say too many people, particularly women who stop themselves from exploring this new space, something that can benefit them because of their fear of the unknown. It is a big unknown and it’s a big fear for many people.”
“But I think if they just come to an event, attend a workshop, you know, networking events, they would find that there are many women like them in this space. And they’re not overly technical. They just understand the tech because, of course, if you’re going to come in the space, you do need to understand the tech because by understanding it, then you understand what the possibilities are with it,” she says.
50,000 women by 2030
To achieve accelerated growth in participation by women, Osbourne and her community launched a new campaign.
This inclusivity and diversity campaign aims to bring 50,000 into blockchain by the year 2030.
“If we want this tech to really make the difference that we know it can make, we need to have diverse voices, we need to have the voices of women in this space, adding to the conversation being part of the conversation. Rather than trying to catch up with the conversation, which is the case in many other industries, and other areas of tech.”
“If people look at it from a community aspect, they will see that there’s a lot more human substance to it than just the tech substance,” she says.
“I think that’s one of the reasons why I created the campaign, to put a human touch to the space and to show women, that this space is for them as what it is for everybody else.”