The world of Web3 has opened opportunities for everyone to participate in a more transparent internet and create wealth. However, women still face tougher challenges within the industry, including lack of representation, policies, and unfavorable settings, as tackled during the Bull or Bear event held at the Philippine Blockchain Week on September 20, 2023.
Organized by edutech platform Bitskwela, the “Bull or Bear: On-Chain Inclusivity: A Debate on Women Empowerment in Web3” featured six female representatives in the Web3 space who shared contradicting views on significant obstacles that can make it harder for women to thrive in the decentralized web.
Dr. Nataliya Ilyushina, economist and a research fellow at the Blockchain Innovation Hub at RMIT University, believes the lack of regulations in Web3 exposes women to higher risks in the space, leaving them vulnerable to scams and workplace injustices without clear protective measures such as social welfare benefits. On the contrary, Belinda Lim, co-founder of Embolden Ventures, contended that regulations offer protection in traditional industries, highlighting the inclusivity of Web3, where women can experience less discrimination compared to mainstream sectors.
The poll after the debate round revealed that the audience is divided, with 50% agreeing that regulations provide essential protection and structure, while the other 50% appreciates the potential for reduced discrimination in the more open and decentralized nature of Web3.
Meanwhile, Ida Mok, president of Women in Blockchain Asia, argued that women-led initiatives are harder to foster in Web3 because they inherit the male-dominated nature of Web2 industries like finance and agriculture. She cited recent studies that show women only make up 7% of the blockchain workforce and that only 13% of Web3 projects had a female position at the founding table. “Web 3 doesn’t exist in isolation… The social barriers still exist, that is why all these initiatives are extremely difficult to foster. The statistics are there, and the numbers don’t lie,” she said.
However, for Ivy Gutierrez of the Lady Traders of Global Miranda Miner Group, Web3 is a newfound niche for women to achieve financial independence, and on a later round, explained why the industry is already conducive to women’s involvement, “Web3 is young but a lot of women already made waves in the industry… and this drives more women to get involved and feel included.”
With a narrow margin, 56% of the audience perceives the male-dominated legacy from Web2 as a hindrance to women-led initiatives in Web3, while the remaining 44% believe Web3 presents a promising avenue for women to attain financial independence.
Entrepreneur and Web3 advocate Juliane Indiongco, also known as Modern Mulan, highlighted the importance of prioritizing women’s empowerment in Web3. In contrast, Irene Umar, the CEO of We Guild Games (W3GG), the official guild partner of Yield Guild Games in Southeast Asia, stressed the broader concept of human empowerment within the realm of Web3.
Prior to the debates, keynote speakers including Liza Panowich, marketing manager of OctaFX; Hideki Okada, CEO of Tekkon; Nelson Lumbres, co-founder of ICP Philippines; and June Olivar, client services director of Blockceler8 PR, shared how their platforms are bringing more diversity to the Web3 ecosystem.
Empowering Women in the Web3 Industry
Bitskwela is actively advancing the Web3 education landscape in the Philippines by localizing educational content and fostering a collaborative environment that promotes understanding and awareness in the space.
Camille Puentespina, Chief Product and Tech Officer of Bitskwela, shared in an earlier interview, “We’re really trying to drive towards getting the numbers up in terms of the women engaged in the space. Women are very much in business development, marketing, and executive jobs. We really want to push forward and try to recognize as well those in the backstage, those who are really developing and building.”
Jiro Reyes, co-founder and CEO of Bitskwela and Philippine Block Awards 2023 awardee, announced the firm’s strategic partnership with W3GG to support its platforms and community members in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore.“Our mission to help Filipinos own a piece of the internet continues with this debate. Part of our Web3 education mission is to build events and campaigns that provide a platform for women-led companies to build. Aside from education, Bitskwela also pushes for equal opportunities in the space,” JC Macalintal, CMO of Bitskwela, added.
The “Bull or Bear: On-Chain Inclusivity” event was co-presented by GCrypto, Tekkon, ICP Hub Philippines, and Blockceler8 by Uniquecorn Strategies PR, and supported by the Philippine Blockchain Week, OctaFX, CoinVault, and TikTok.