Anyone who has ever attended a major Web3 event (Paris Blockchain Week Summit, SurfinBitcoin, EthCC, to name the French) has already noticed that women are an ultra-minority in this nascent industry. Born from this observation, the association Women in Web3 (WiW3) intends to change the situation.
Behind this project we obviously find women, all active within the ecosystem. The initiator is Naomie Halioua, a decentralized finance (DeFi) engineer who currently works as a product manager at cryptocurrency data provider Kaiko. She was quickly joined by Phoebe Beigbeder (co-founder of the NFT Paris conference and private equity project analyst at Atka), Ava Kouhana (student at Ensae and intern at PyratzLabs, a firm that supports Web3 projects), as well as by Anaëlle Guez ( founder of Achyle, a start-up specializing in consultancy and the development of digital tools for legal services). There are now twelve women working in the web3 sector who actively contribute to the development of the association, including Lucille Brunet, Dafne Saporito, Margaux Borgey, Tiffany Danscoine, Margaux Frisque, Chloe Semaan, Anastasia Melachrinos and Sophie Merdrignac.
An association born from a call on LinkedIn
WiW3 was born “a bit by accident”, admits Naomie Halioua, whose appeal launched in May on the LinkedIn network far exceeded her expectations. “We proposed to the women of the ecosystem to meet for an aperitif on a ‘roof’ and we thought that about thirty people would be interested but in the end more than 400 people responded positively”. The small troop then organizes itself in a week to find partners for this prime time, and the French unicorn from the metaverse The Sandbox answers present.
Since then, the community has held two events a month, each sponsored by an industry player, such as Tezos (blockchain), Morpho (DeFi protocol), Avalanche (blockchain), or StakeDAO (multi-service DeFi platform). The next one will take place on January 12, at Paris Dauphine University, in partnership with APWine, a French protocol specializing in the tokenization of DeFi returns. These workshops “in which we explain the technical specifics of a DeFi protocol, a blockchain or something else”, aim to acculturate women to these professions that can sometimes seem reserved for men.
“Web3 and DeFi are very ‘BoysClub'”
If Naomie Halioua brushes off any discrimination in hiring, she believes the issue is more in terms of community. “Web3, and even more so DeFi, are very “BoysClub”. When I go to events people often ask me if I deal with communication or marketing, I think it’s a cognitive bias present in web2 that has been transmitted to web3, and that we must fight”, judges the president of WiW3.
Faced with the discomfort that women can sometimes feel at the idea of ”networking” in traditional events, the association has therefore set out to build its own community, and to educate those who wish to do so. “Secondly, we will also aim to help women start using Web3 and not focus on education anymore,” adds Naomie Halioua.
Connect, educate and empower women at Web3
Given the current market situation, however, the time is more favorable for education and acculturation. In addition to organized events, Women in Web3 also offers audio (podcast) and video (YouTube channel) content, notably highlighting successful female role models within the industry, including Claire Balva (founder of Blockchain Partner), Karolina Gorna (expert of cybersecurity), Charlotte Eli (co-founder of AtlendisLabs) and Léa Narzis (Blockchain Engineer at Polkadot) etc.
An antenna dedicated to B2B acculturation has also been created within the association which aims to highlight women experts in web3, WeBlock, led by Anaelle Guez. Its mission is, among other things, to offer training sessions for companies. Safran, HEC and Havas, for example, have used it. Education must also take place at the level of schools and universities, where women are again grossly under-represented. Naomi Halioua has therefore invited to teach a course on this topic at the HEC, and the association has also established a partnership with the Ecole 42 and the Paris-Dauphine University.
“Our goal is to help create tomorrow’s Web3 elite and get more women into it,” concludes Naomie Halioua. For this reason, from the beginning of 2023, WIW3 will organize thematic dinners to unite and involve women of the web3 ecosystem with those of the web2 ecosystem or large groups. The association is also currently conducting a study to accurately determine the share of jobs and positions held by women in this young industry. This will be published in the coming months.