While the cryptocurrency gold rush has come and passed (for now), the underlying technology, blockchain, has been met with a lot of optimism within the IT space and beyond due to its potential to disrupt and transform various industries. The blockchain wave is definitely building up in Southeast Asia and as testament to that, the inaugural KL Blockchain Week kicked of this week in Kuala Lumpur with the first-ever Women in Blockchain (WIB) Asia event.
The event was organised by NEM Malaysia, held at the blockchain company’s recently launched regional headquarters and blockchain centre, the NBC, to celebrate and encourage more women to take part in blockchain and other technological areas.
Opening Keynote Address by Jasmine Ng
of NEM Malaysia
|Organisers, guests and blockchain experts|
WIB Asia featured female speakers, experts from a wide range of industries, from healthcare, the legal community, non-profit organisations to cybersecurity, who each gave their take on the technology and how it has impacted their field of work to give attendees an idea of the level of disruption and innovation blockchain can potentially bring. The sessions were never too technical and served as a good introduction for those who hoped to gain a better understanding of the subject.
The experts included Daphne Choong, Key Member & Logistic Worldwide Express Chief Technology Officer of Women Who Code; Elizabeth Chee, Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder of HIT Foundation; Belinda Lim, Founding Member of The Good Block; and Madga Chelly, Director of Responsible Cyber.
Silvia Barredo Herrero, NEM Business Development and Events Coordinator, commented that technology is pretty much a male dominated field and there exists a huge gender gap in terms of women’s participation in ICT-related jobs. What’s worse is that the higher up the corporate ladder, the percentage goes down dramatically - with very few women holding top C-level positions.
In that sense, NEM Malaysia is unique because the number of women in all departments, including business development, technology, finance, HR and admin, outnumber men. Interestingly, NEM centres in the USA, Middle East, Thailand and Taiwan are also lead by women.
Even at this early stage, Silvia stated that gender participation in relation to blockchain technology is looking to be more unbalanced than other technology sectors - with less than 10% of female crypto investors and workers in the blockchain space compared to their male counterparts.
It was called Women in Blockchain, but the event
drew attendees from both genders in equal parts
Jay Kim from South Korea explained
Nevertheless, because it’s a new technology without historical or cultural limitations, there is still a good chance for everyone involved to create a more equal future. Jasmine Ng, NEM’s Director of Investment & Special Projects, said, “We are delighted to launch the first-ever Women in Blockchain event in Asia where talented, successful personalities can come together to share, discuss and explore the opportunities in what is a rapidly growing technology here in Malaysia, the region and the world. While the technology is set to revolutionise the way we do business, it also has a role to play in encouraging social inclusion and empowering marginalised women. We want to be part of these conversations and we believe that NEM can make a difference.”
Also present at the event was Maria Chin Abdullah, member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya, who gave the closing address. “The government is committed to bring about democracy and an ‘Inclusive Politics’, where we aspire towards laying the foundations for genuine human development. One of the causes I am passionate about is the empowerment of women. There is a need to not only build the leadership capacity of the women, but to inspire them to feel that this is a viable and sustainable path where they can better their own lives, their families and society.”
“I congratulate NEM for organising the Women in Blockchain Asia event which provides a platform for raising awareness in this matter, and how revolutionary technologies such as blockchain can be leveraged for social good, bringing transparency, equality and openness – values that are in line with the New Malaysia – to the table for the betterment of individuals and the nation as a whole,” she said.
The NBC acts as a learning centre, incubator and
accelerator for blockchain related startups.
It's also a co-working space, providing facilities for
blockchain-related learning and various events.
KL Blockchain Week will continue until Thursday (27 September 2018) with a host of blockchain-related events, including Malaysia’s first international blockchain event, Blocfest, Blockchain Forensics Summit, and lots more.