Now, even though there are a number of female-focused crypto spaces, odeniran says that women are still underrepresented. “I’ve been in spaces where I’m the only black person, or the only woman, or the only black woman,” she says. odeniran says that women need these spaces to get involved, but also for solidarity. spaces where women are outnumbered can feel exclusive or worse, unsafe.
After Siegel discovered that a conference organizer had engaged in harassing tweets, she got a friend to raise the issue yet again with an acquaintance who worked for the conference. this time, she got an answer. “I apologize for what happened at our event,” wrote Justin Doochin, director of events for BTC Inc., “but without this person’s name or email, we have no way to identify them and prevent them from attending future events.” siegel responded to say that @bitcoin_fuckboi had posted a number of selfies on his account, including with prominent bitcoin personalities, during the event. she also recalled that she rode the mechanical bull at the conference, which would narrow it down to a few dozen potential attendees.
Reading: Bitcoin conference failure
Meanwhile, David Bailey, the CEO of Bitcoin Inc., the organization that runs the Bitcoin conference, responded to the incident on Twitter. @chairforce, he wrote, had been “seriously reprimanded, but everyone makes mistakes and I’m not firing them for it.” As for the conference itself, he wrote, “26,000 people attended, don’t let a few bad apples stain the community.” one woman responded to suggest that women might feel safer if they were clear about the conference code of conduct. “We already have that,” replied Bailey. (Bitcoin conference organizers declined to answer my questions about how it handles harassment or violations of its harassment policy.)
for siegel, there is no way to undo the damage of the harassment he experienced on twitter. but she still wants the organizers to take responsibility for what happened while she was there. “People are underestimating how scary it is to have a conference tell you that if something happens, there will be no course of action,” she says. “The kind of misogynistic jokes you see on twitter take a completely different form when you’re standing in the same room as that man.”
After the conference ended, others started talking about normalizing misogyny in bitcoin circles. “On behalf of the 100 million bitcoiners, I would like to formally apologize to the thousand or so bullies who think harassing women is commendable,” one person tweeted. “Those bugs do not represent us and we do not like them.” some people responded in solidarity; other responses were less encouraging. “women are for fucking not bullying wtf bitcoinbros,” wrote a twitter user named @insiliconot. the tweet received 21 likes.
A blog post also circulated on twitter, calling for an end to “the glorification of rape, misogyny and sexual harassment” within the bitcoin community. Author Tom Maxwell Hosts a Bitcoin Podcast; He says he wrote the post after learning what happened to Siegel at the conference. he thought his bullying was unacceptable, but not surprising either. “It was like, here’s another example of this kind of thing,” he told me. after he posted his blog, some people on bitcoin twitter responded and called it a “beta” or “a waste of space”. one person told him to kill himself.
maxwell and other bitcoin advocates insist that the toxicity of certain groups does not represent the entire community. but it may be enough to drive some women out of space altogether. the woman who found the air tag in her bag during bitcoin week decided to leave a job in the industry due to what she sees as toxicity in the community. Siegel, who entered the crypto space in 2017, says that she expected the community to become more diverse in recent years. “But I am afraid that if we continue to lean into that culture, we will scare these women who are getting involved,” she says. “let’s back down.”