BOSTON—Web3 companies—those developing radical new applications involving the metaverse, blockchain technologies, and cryptocurrencies that are set to transform many global industries—are on the cutting edge of shaping the future of the digital world. But in one aspect these companies remain stuck in the past: Women are vastly underrepresented among founders and investors. What’s more, that underrepresentation is greater than in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and the wider tech industry. Only 13% of Web3 founding teams include a woman, and only 3% have a team that is exclusively made up of women.
These are among the findings of a study being published today by BCG X, the tech build and design unit of Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and People of Crypto Lab, a creative and innovation studio that aims to boost diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Web3 ecosystem. The firms partnered to analyze the gender diversity of founders and investors using a database from Crunchbase consisting of nearly 2,800 participants.
Titled “Web3 Already Has a Gender Diversity Problem,” the study also notes that in funding for Web3 companies, the split is even wider. All-male founding teams raise nearly four times as much, on average, as all-female teams—almost $30 million compared to about $8 million. And among Web3 companies that have raised more than $100 million, the percentage with all-female founding teams is zero.
The gender disparity extends to the overall Web workforce. Among all employees at top Web3 startups, the share of women is higher—approximately 27%—but they are often clustered in non-technical roles such as HR and marketing. Alarmingly, this gap is greater than in the overall workforce in STEM-based fields, where women make up 33% of the workforce, with 25% filling technical roles.
“The numbers are alarming. This is an economic as well as a diversity crisis, with opportunities being missed to back and scale businesses designed with female customers in mind. The gender gap in Web3 is an even bigger problem than what we’ve long known about in STEM companies overall. With Web3 we’re not just talking about tech—we’re talking about tech applied to every industry and every aspect of life,” said Jessica Apotheker, BCG’s chief marketing officer, and a coauthor of the study. “Web3 companies will shape how people represent themselves online, transact business, and interact with each other. BCG research has found that companies with diverse leadership teams are better at innovation and more profitable. Web3 companies that do not embrace and leverage diversity from the start will forego a huge business and monetization opportunity.”
Because the Web3 ecosystems is still early in its development, there remains time to address these issues using the following measures outlined by the authors:
“Web3 will revolutionize how we interact, transact, and monetize as a society, but this can only be achieved if women are equally involved in its development,” said Simone Berry, cofounder of People of Crypto Lab and a coauthor of the study. “Despite the current ecosystem being biased towards men we are very early in development with an incredible opportunity to not repeat past mistakes and ensure that women have the resources and funding they need to lead the new digital economy.”
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People of Crypto Lab (POC Lab) is a content development hub and creative innovation studio that is focused on bringing diverse and inclusive cultural storytelling to the Web3 and metaverse space while advancing the representation and inclusion of Black and brown women, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and POC individuals in Web3 technology. Cofounded by Akbar Hamid and Simone Berry, a gay brown man and a Black woman, the POC Lab team leverages their backgrounds in marketing, innovation, consumer lifestyle and fashion strategy to create content and virtual experiences that accurately represent the diverse global majority. POC Lab collaborates with brands to create authentic narratives that can be showcased as content and gamified experiences within emerging virtual worlds. By developing digital assets, games, and own-able IP, POC Lab helps brands to better engage with their communities while building cultural currency in the Web3 economy.
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