IBM’s Blockchain Team Is Led by Women. Here’s Why That’s a Big Deal for Silicon Valley

A 1,500-member-strong blockchain team: led by a woman.

Blockchain development: led by a woman

Company CEO: a woman.

That's just part of IBM's leadership—Bridget van Kralingen, Donna Dillenberger, and Ginni Rometty; respectively—and all the women are highly qualified and bring expertise, skill, creativity, leadership, and insight to IBM's blockchain efforts. But the women-led nature of the company's team and platform is still something of an anomaly in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency, so it was wonderful to see this examination of their team and women leading in blockchain.

IBM notes that they practice skills-based hiring, looking for high quality and diversity. It's a natural fit in the growing industry, as the same sensitivity to social responsibility that guides IBM's hiring practices dovetails with many potential applications of blockchain, such as food safety and other areas of tracking and accountability.

The article also explores more pragmatic reasons to look to women to lead: Increased diversity adds a competitive advantage, and in a new and burgeoning industry, diversifying early on makes sense from business and equality-based points of view.

Read on and click through to explore reasons for gender disparity, especially an unfriendly culture and undercurrent in much of the crypto and blockchain world.

Still, many women are hopeful that the culture is changing to be more welcoming to women—and we certainly plan to be at the forefront as women take the lead.

By Ruth Umoh

In the male-dominated world of cryptocurrency, IBM is going against the grain. The company's 1,500 member blockchain team is led by Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of global industries, platforms and blockchain. Meanwhile, the actual blockchain development was led by IBM Fellow Donna Dillenberger.

With the tremendous surge in bitcoin's popularity over the last year, blockchain, which is the platform behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, has received renewed interest among large corporations and smaller entrepreneurs looking to cash in on the digital gold rush. IBM is one of a long list of companies that have now built their own blockchain platform.

However, the company's predominantly female leadership lies in stark contrast to other blockchain start-ups, which are overwhelmingly run by men. It also makes the company an anomaly within a fintech industry that remains heavily male-dominated. However, van Kralingen, who joined the company in 2004, notes that promoting women to leadership positions isn't a new trend at IBM. The company's CEO, Ginni Rometty, is the most visible example.

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