International Women’s Day 2023 is coming up soon on March 8 and we will be featuring some incredible female leaders working in Web3 and blockchain. Even though there’s huge potential for growth and innovation in the industry, women remain significantly underrepresented in leadership positions in this field.
But despite the persistent gender gap, progress is being made as more and more women are taking on prominent roles in this industry from pioneering blockchain-based companies to driving policy. Women are making significant strides towards building a more inclusive and diverse Web3 ecosystem.
To kick off the month where we celebrate the International Women’s Day, we interviewed our Co-founder and COO Elina Cadouri who talked about her experience as a leader in the blockchain industry.
How did you first get involved in the blockchain industry?
“When I was previously working on Remote.com, which was a platform for remote work focused on the future of work, one of our investors told us that we should look into blockchain, which seemed like the emerging trend at the time. So I started learning about blockchain and very quickly fell down the rabbit hole of learning about the technology and various projects.
I became really excited about many aspects that were driving the industry including how we can equalize things, create more transparency, and give power back to individuals. I was amazed at the progress being made with blockchain technology and got to a point where I felt like we had no choice but to do something to contribute to its development.”
Did you have any female role models in your career?
“I didn't really have a specific female role model or mentor, but I did have women leaders I was able to read about or follow which was really influential for me. I read Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In, kind of early in my career and even though she does get criticized a bit, it was pretty amazing to read about a woman speaking up about issues that she was facing and hear her stories.
I also liked reading books by Brené Brown and Melinda Gates, listening to podcasts, and following different female leaders on Twitter. That was really helpful just to see how other women were talking about the challenges that they were facing, learning from that, and also helping to qualify the experiences that I was going through.”
What were some of the challenges you faced in your career as a female leader?
“Pretty much with every company I've worked with, I've been the only female leader in the company and often the only woman on a call or in an investor meeting. And that's tough because I was also pretty young when I began in startups. And I think early on, I felt like I had to fit in and I had to do things the way men did.
The male voices can dominate sometimes, especially when there's a lot of men in the room together. I had to learn to speak up and feel confident in myself and appreciate that having a different perspective can be an asset versus something I needed to change or to mold into the group that I was working with. That took some time for me.
So it was really helpful having female leaders that I could look to and say, “Wow, they did it and they're saying these are real problems and I shouldn't just change what I'm saying or worry about how I look in order to fit in.” I just kept focusing on the work and my contributions. That was a really important shift that I've been able to make throughout my career.”
Are there any key takeaways that really stood out to you when you were reading and listening to these female leaders?
“I think one thing that really resonated for me is that a lot of times women aren't critiqued in the same way that men are critiqued. Men are often critiqued for their ideas or the work that they do while a lot of times women can get critiqued more about our personality, how we look or how we do something, rather than our actual work. For example, I was called “reserved”. I think being aware of that was really powerful because then I knew, “Okay, this isn't about me, it’s not personal” since those kinds of comments can feel personal quickly. Being able to see that difference and understanding the wider misconceptions made it easier for me to continuously be able to shift back and focus on the work.
Also, there's that famous study where participants were given the exact same case study where one leader had a female name and one leader had a male name. Students had to evaluate the leaders after hearing about the different things they did. The male leader was called ambitious, outspoken, and strong minded while the female leader was called bossy, headstrong or not compassionate enough.
These sorts of things provide really helpful context to understand so that when I come up against difficult situations, especially early in my career, it becomes not just about who is giving me that feedback, but the wider issues that are at play with the society we live in and how things have been done up until now. But now, thankfully for me at least, these kinds of comments happen less and less.”
How do you think the Web3 and blockchain industry can play a role in promoting gender diversity in the tech industry?
“I'm hopeful that a lot of the ideals that blockchain and crypto were built on that have to do with equalizing opportunities come into practice where companies can create diversity within their organizations and how projects are built. I think a lot of blockchain companies tend to work remotely, which opens up a lot more opportunities for diversity in the space.
I think there’s an open mindset that I hope companies and people working in this space continue to embrace as they build out their teams and try to hire a lot of different types of people in the industry. If the people behind it look the same and talk the same as the people working in tech over the last few decades, then I think we're going to have a lot of the same type of issues that we've been struggling with so far.”
What does Dock do to promote diversity?
“We're a fully distributed global team across 11 countries, so almost everybody on our team is in a different country. And I think that's really awesome and I’m proud that we have people from a variety of backgrounds. This brings a deeper level of diversity since our team members live in very different types of societies, political systems, religions, and cultures. Everybody brings a different perspective based on their experiences that's very different from everybody else's. I also think it brings an openness to the team where we try to embrace our differences.
We like to learn about each other, ask questions about how people live, and what their local traditions are. All of that really helps promote a company culture where people feel welcome and they feel like the things that make them unique are really embraced.”
Can you share any advice you have for women who are interested in working in the blockchain industry or currently working in the field?
“One thing that's really great about blockchain and crypto in general is that there are many ways for women to get involved, grow their experience, and contribute that aren't just through the workplace. There's local meetups, online communities, events, and other channels where someone can share their skills or learn more about their interests. That's really powerful for somebody who wants to get into the industry to start. Because that way, as you're applying to roles, you can show your genuine interest and have some experience. When I speak to candidates who are interested in working with us, I personally love seeing that they’ve had some sort of involvement in blockchain.
As for women who are already in this space, there are some pretty great communities of women that tend to be very welcoming and are a great way to kind of meet other women in the industry. Many projects and companies are still fairly small so it's a nice way to network with other people.
Early on when I was just getting started in the space, somebody invited me into a women in blockchain Slack group which had some pretty impressive women leaders in it, which was awesome to see what other women were saying,ask questions or share resources.”
Can you share some of your proudest accomplishments as a female leader in the Web3 industry?
“I spend day in and day out of my work days on Dock and I’m proud of where we are and where we’re headed. We’re five years old and we’re flourishing. What really gets me excited is when we started, we had a vision, and we were motivated about this beautiful dream we had, but we had a long road ahead of us to make it a reality. And now we’ve made a lot of progress with the products we’ve built and getting more customers and organizations in diverse industries using our technology.
I'm also extremely proud of the team we have behind Dock. I think our company is a group of people who are passionate about what we're doing, who understand the mission we're working on, and who really care a lot about making sure that we do this right.
What do you think the future holds for women in the blockchain and Web3 industry?
On one hand, there have been some recent setbacks for women across industries in general and around the world with COVID. At least in the US, the majority of people who left the workforce due to COVID were women and many are still recovering from that, especially women coming from minority groups.
My hope is that the blockchain industry is able to help reduce this gap both by providing work and opportunities for women to advance in the workforce, as well as provide tools to enable women to have more independence, access to resources, and to protect their privacy.
Are you seeing more involvement of women at blockchain conferences, shaping standards, and other relevant discussions?
I think there are a lot of women who do speak up in the industry in general. When I've attended conferences in the past, there's still a majority of men, but I do think women are presenting, women are standing out. I know there's a lot of women-led crypto projects, which is awesome to see.
There's an Internet Identity Workshop that happens twice a year that is organized by a woman and there's a lot of emphasis on trying to help women who attend to network. Many of the leaders in the credentialing space are also women, so I think there are improvements there.
Dock’s founder Elina Cadouri is a leading woman in blockchain who has made her mark by leveraging blockchain technology to help empower organizations and individuals by giving them the ability to create and share verified data. We hope to see more women and people of diverse backgrounds around the world contributing and engaging in the blockchain and Web3 industry.
Dock is a Verifiable Credentials company that provides Dock Certs, a user-friendly, no-code platform, and developer solutions that enable organizations to issue, manage and verify fraud-proof credentials efficiently and securely. Dock enables organizations and individuals to create and share verified data.
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