Rising from a sea of alpha males and “tech bros” are some pioneering Toronto women in Blockchain.
These women are bringing their brand of inclusiveness and diversity to a mostly male industry. They are having an impact on Blockchain communities around the world. Recently, they made the Toronto Waterfront area Blockchain central, for the second year in a row with two hallmark events.
Toronto’s CryptoChicks hosted their Hackathon and Conference, in May, at the RBC Auditorium, on Queens Quay West. In August, Tracy Leparulo, Founder of Untraceable, produced the Futurist Blockchain Conference, and the largest Blockchain conference in Canada. The venue was held harbour-side at the Rebel Entertainment Complex in the Port Lands area.
“ CRYPTOCHICKS IS A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ESTABLISHED BY AN ALL WOMEN TEAM”
But what is Blockchain? It’s that new technology powering new forms of digital money like Bitcoin, and “tokenizing” assets into more efficient digital ways, extending even to future transactions for Facebook users. Blockchain is garnering interest and uncovering new applications in nearly every industry. Blockchain is a catalyst in driving game-changing attributes to traditional financial markets through its – decentralized, immutable, streamlined, and cost-effective properties.
Rarely are women the early community drivers of new technology ecosystems, and even more rare; expressly to bring opportunities to other women and youths. The CryptoChicks inaugural event in 2018 was the world’s first all female Blockchain Hackathon, attracting 200 high school students and aspiring female founders from all over the world. A hackathon is an application development weekend where teams of “hackers,” with the help of mentors, focus on solving a business or community problem. They compete to be the winner as the most viable project chosen by a group of judges at the end of the weekend. This year’s successful event featured a family day with learning opportunities, including educational sessions and Blockchain games for kids.
CryptoChicks is a not-for-profit established by an all women team just two years ago. Since then, they’ve hosted Blockchain hackathons, education initiatives, and started chapters in places like New York, Pakistan, Switzerland, Australia and Russia. The name and logo, a cartoon-like pigtail girl, was purposely chosen to stand out and be a bit controversial, according to Founders Elena Sinelnikova and Natalia Ameline, who both have master’s degrees in computer science.
The Blockchain Futurist Conference welcomed 2500 international attendees and top speakers such as Vitalik Buturin, Tone Vays and Roger Ver. It was two days of dawn to dusk keynotes, panel discussions, Bootcamp sessions, exhibits, networking events, parties and even dips in the Cabana pool. All in an immersive experience to understand everyday applications, including airdrop crypto coins, to buy your lunch. Tracy, the consummate community builder, puts the focus on inclusivity by leveraging an army of student volunteers. She tries to make ticket prices affordable.
“ TRACY DISCOVERED BITCOIN IN 2013 WHILE WORKING AS A MICROFINANCE VOLUNTEER IN KENYA”
Tracy is the first Blockchain event organizer in Canada, and a force on the international scene undertaking past events in Chicago and the Bahamas. She discovered Bitcoin in 2013 while working as a microfinance volunteer in Kenya. Active since those early days of the Toronto Blockchain community, she reminisces about it consisting of developers and groups of counterculture libertarians and anarchists. Bankers in the crowd preferred not to mention they worked for a bank. However, much has changed since then; almost all banks are now researching or working on use cases incorporating Blockchain. Perhaps next year, diversity extends to more excellent representation from Bay Street.