Glass ceilings? Yes, they still very much exist. The tech industry is no exception to that; on the contrary. Quite innocently used as a metaphor to describe an invisible barrier that keeps people from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy. Although enormous progress has been made, woman has been fighting for equality for a long time. The suffrage movement in the early part of the 20th Century gave hope to achieve just that. Despite woman like Emelia Earhart, Ophra Winfrey, Marie Curie, Margaret Thatcher, Valentina Tereshkova who have all rewritten history, today, woman are still catching up.
Technology is still very much a male-dominated arena. One of the main reasons cited is that one in five boys versus one in twenty girls decides to pursue a tech study. That apparently has a significant knock-on effect further down the road, with man outnumbering woman four to one as they enter the workforce. The talent pool for women – even everything else being equal – is merely a lot smaller.
So, where do we stand today?
- In the US computing jobs held by women in 2014 was 26%, which actually was 37% in 1991…..
- Tech leadership roles for women in the US is 18% and just over 11% for Europe and Asia.
- Women fill less than 7% of new tech positions in Europe.
- Just over 8 percent of founding teams are female. That figure “swells” to 17.7 percent on the broader tech industry.
Looking at stats is one thing, but doing something about is another. Waiting for the system to change might take a generation at least before sustainable effects become apparent. Another way is to take a leaf from the book of the woman listed above and address the situation yourself. That is precisely what Saritta Hines and Blair White have done, stepping in the footsteps of all those great women. They founded their own company – TrustaBit; taking on a phenomenon that needs disruption, in another male-dominated airline industry, starting a tech-oriented company, and as a kicker, doing that in the Blockchain.
I have interviewed Saritta Hines (CEO TrustaBit) about how they feel as being part of such an elite and exclusive group as a woman in the blockchain.
You could have started your own or any company last year, five years ago, ten years ago. Why now?
Last year Saritta and her daughter built an Ethereum mining rig together as a summer project. That confirmed the interest in blockchain technology, which leads to an interest in enterprise applications. One afternoon Blair and Saritta were brainstorming blockchain applications for different industries, from fintech to escrow. For one odd reason the issue of flight delays came up, and instantaneous they knew that this was a critical flaw in the travel industry that somehow. Delayed flights have been such a pain point for us and so many other travelers on both business and personal capacities, yet there was no seamless solution on the market. It didn’t take long for us to realize that this was a solution we needed to create. That was the beginning of TrustaBit.
Statistically companies lead by woman raise more funds during startup phase and IPO. Are you surprised?
Very surprising. They would love to see TrustaBit to be no exception to that statistic!!
Have you ever given the glass ceiling any thought?
We are aware of the glass ceiling, but the way we see it– glass can be broken with the right amount of force. Women in blockchain are that force!
You think a level playing field is important?
Very important! Historically, women are placed at a disadvantage when competing in male-dominated industries, such as tech. The goal is never to ask for a handout, just for a level playing field. Once that is achieved, there is no stopping us!
Do regulators or governments have a role in that?
Yes, they absolutely do. Saritta can actually speak from a personal experience. In college, she received a full athletic scholarship for basketball. If they hadn’t changed the Law in 1972, the provisions of her scholarship would have been vastly different from her male counterparts, simply because she was a woman. Since then it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities.
Do you have a (female)role-model?
Yes, my mother. Growing up, I witnessed how hard my mother worked to build her own medical staffing business from the ground up. I always admired her drive and determination – she could make anything happen! I gained much of my work ethic and business sense from her example.
Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?
We could see ourselves actively investing in woman-owned startups and helping those companies to grow and thrive.
If you could put yourself back in high school, would you have done anything different?
From Saritta – Yes. At one point in high school, I had elected to take a programming class. The class met in this cool hidden room in our school library, and I was the only girl enrolled. On top of that, I was a star basketball player at the time and programming wasn’t necessarily a “cool kid” thing to do. In the end, I did not continue with the class. That is what I would change – I would have remained in the programming class.
What would you say to a 12 year old girl (anywhere in the world) when it comes to career choices?
STEM, STEM, STEM- It’s the future! STEM Education takes an interdisciplinary approach, teaching students to apply Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math to real-world lessons. We would encourage students to find a way to incorporate STEM into their lives. If you love art – find a way to incorporate STEM into the art world. Then, just add the “A” and you have STEAM!
So, what can we learn from Saritta and Blair?
The debate of the glass ceiling will probably never go away. Even if we decide today to level the playing field, it will still take another generation before the effects are visible, and we have a truly leveled workforce.
But, in a way, it is right that we are not catching up just yet. Don’t get me wrong, we do need to break this ceiling. But…. once the ceiling is broken, we tend to become complacent and move on the next thing. Having normalised the ratio, doesn’t imply the underlying causes, culture and ethos is addressed adequately, let alone the fact we achieved a sustainable change. For instance the Brogrammer culture; often even promoted by universities and tech companies. That actually creates an entry barrier rather than it reduces one, and still very much puts men centre stage. The also much needed cultural change is not achieved simply by regulations. A change from within the industry and some strong role models would do wonders.
In my home country, the Netherlands, there is an expression that says if you see someone eat, you will get hungry. So, applying that to this, Saritta and Blair, make us proud! Lead the way for millions of other woman around the world, and change this landscape for once and for all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Hans Koning has been involved in the Blockchain and crypto community for a few years, and considers himself to be an insider and influencer. He has been and is advisor to 50+ coin/token offerings, adding value to ventures, and steering them through the challenges that are faced through the various development stages. He is also advisor the TrustaBit.
Dr. Hans Koning TIIM: LinkedIn | Email | Twitter
Saritta Hines: Founder / Chief Executive Officer, TrustaBit. / LinkedIn
Holding over 13 years of experience in data analytics, Saritta Hines is a trusted leader at bridging strategic business initiatives with expert IT implementation.
Blair White: Co-Founder / Chief Sales Officer, TrustaBit. / LinkedIn
Blair White has successfully strategized introducing new products and services into the marketplace. Blair has ranked in the top 10% in the sales divisions of AT&T, Verizon, and Apple, to name a few.
TrustaBit: Website | Telegram
TrustaBit uses blockchain technology and smart contracts to issue vouchers automatically to passengers when their flights have been delayed. This solution allows consumers to use that voucher spread over multiple vendors. Keeping the valued customer loyal to the airline. TrustaBit currently holds a crowdfunding campaign at StartEngine.