For centuries, intelligent women have pondered, debated and even changed the course of history in an attempt to answer the proverbial question, “Can we have it all?” As women, at some point in our lives, we’ve asked or have been asked this question. Some of you may be asking this of yourself right at this moment.
In a way, this very question is the defining issue of the modern day woman. A topic of intense social, economic and political debate, you may be familiar with some of the leading figures on this topic: Princeton Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
This is a conversation that must be had, not just among women, but with our men as well. But the question itself seems to miss the point. What does it even mean to have it all? Surely, not everyone defines “all” the same. And the idea that we have to “have” these things, however you define them, is very indicative of our consumer oriented culture. For the intent and purposes of this post, I’m rephrasing the question to, “How can women be empowered to be present both at work and at home?”
The root of the problem for many women is the separation of work and home. This is a recent phenomenon that traps us in 9-5 workdays, tethered to our desk away from our families. Traditionally, cottage industries have been the rule, not the exception, for most of human history. Families — men, women, children — worked together with other families and neighbors, sharing the fruit of their labor. The industrial revolution changed that dynamic and the agrarian way of life declined as sons and daughters left the family farm to head to the “big city” to work long hours in factories.
Today, as the industrial revolution gives way to the digital revolution, we are coming back full circle to a culture that values families and community, more time over money, and being part of a share economy. Freelancing, entrepreneurship and self-employment are on the rise and a Millennial Branding report in 2013 found that 45% of Millennials (those aged 18-34 in 2015) choose workplace flexibility over pay. The oldest of the Millennial generation, myself included, are now hitting our thirties and already make up the majority of the workforce.
I believe that in order to be empowered to do it all, to have the ability to continue growing professionally while being present at home for our loved ones, we need to consider choosing a career that can provide us the flexibility to design our lifestyle to reflect what we value and accommodate our most important priorities.
Times are changing — in our favor. So if you’re a woman looking to be empowered to design your own life, let’s examine what key elements you should seek in a prospective career field:
- Flexibility to set your own schedule
- Ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection
- Bosses who value results over the number of hours or when you work
- Traveling only when necessary
Given the above guidelines, choosing to pursue a career in technology and specifically in Bitcoin is one way to be empowered to continue growing professionally and be present at home.
It’s well known that women are disparagingly under-represented in technology. According to Women Who Tech, only 2% of open source developers are women, and women earn only 28% of B.S. degrees in Computer Science while only 16.5% go on to earn their PhD. Yet, women are half the global population. In Bitcoin, the numbers are even lower. Only 8% of the community are women and many, like myself, are not programmers. However, therein lies the opportunity.
Like technology, Bitcoin doesn’t care about your socioeconomic status, ethnicity, culture, age or gender. It only cares that you are willing to learn and do good work. If the Internet is the backbone of the information economy, Bitcoin is the backbone of the digital economy, and a brand new technology like Bitcoin needs skilled professionals of all backgrounds, from writers and accountants to lawyers, project managers and more.
Bitcoin has only been around for 6 years so now is the time to dive in and start learning if you want to have a competitive advantage. It’s like being at the beginning of the Internet or iconic companies like Apple or Google. Some early adopters include the top venture capitalists in the world such as those on Forbe’s Midas list: Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz, Peter Thiel of Founder’s Fund and Jim Breyer of Accel Partners have all invested millions in building out this ecosystem.
At the Bitcoin Foundation, four of the seven team members who support the foundation’s developers and one of our board members are women. Full disclosure, I’m one of them. We are all at various stages in our lives — from newly engaged, newly married, married with young children, married with almost adolescent children and married with grown children. Thanks to choosing to be in technology, and particularly in Bitcoin, we all get to work from home and have a boss who values results over how we get them. I’m honored to serve at the Bitcoin Foundation where our membership supports developers like Gavin Andresen, Cory Fields, Wladimir van der Laan and Sergio Lerner as they collaborate with developers around the world to get us to Bitcoin Core Version 1.0.
While I may not have a computer science degree or millions of dollars to invest, I didn’t let this discourage me. I encourage you to not allow yourself to be limited by what you can’t do and instead to focus on what you can do. What I bring to the table is ten years of work experience at the intersection of nonprofit, private and public sectors. I chose to #LeanIn and its been an exciting two years, educating people on the social, economic and political impact of this new technology and developing strategic partnerships to advance Bitcoin worldwide.
Every company is looking for hard working, teachable, people of integrity who have a passion for making this world a better place. So no matter what your skillset, education or experience, decide today to #LeanIn and #MakeItHappen.
To help you along, here are some very practical next steps:
- Take a free training course and become DCC certified
- Reach out to three women in Bitcoin in your area of expertise. This blog is a great place to start!
- Attend bitcoin events to learn and meet folks in the community — coming up: Inside Bitcoins New York (27-29 April 2015) and DevCore London (15 April 2015)
- Start applying! https://coinality.com/
If you’re a developer, we want to hear from you! The current bottleneck in core development is testing so if you get excited over writing test plans and testing code, or just want to work with Gavin and the team, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jinyoung Lee Englund is the Director of Communications and Business Development at the Bitcoin Foundation. The Bitcoin Foundation promotes research and development into Bitcoin Core, creates new avenues for people to participate in the bitcoin project and advances the development of an open and participatory digital economy. With ten years of experience at the intersection of the nonprofit, private and public sectors, she is a sought out advisor, speaker and contributor on creative and collaborative market-based solutions for improving lives, disruptive technologies, women in leadership, and business strategy. She is happily married and currently stationed in Washington, D.C. with her husband, U.S. Marine Corps Captain Geoffrey S. Englund. Connect with her on Twitter @jinyoungenglund.