Web3 eases technology access for women and minorities, experts say

There is a need to make the emerging industry more inclusive, say panellists at the Access Abu Dhabi event

From left, Cathy Wu, Olayinka Odeniran and Sandy Carter during a panel discussion at the Access Granted event in Abu Dhabi. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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Web3 has opened up access to technology and decentralisation for women and minorities everywhere, Cathy Wu, director of investor relations at Multicoin Capital, has said.

Ms Wu, whose company invests in cryptocurrencies, tokens and blockchain ventures, made the remarks during an Access Abu Dhabi session titled “The Future of Web3 is Female”, which discussed ways to make the sector more inclusive.

Women represented about 20 per cent to 25 per cent of the workforce in Web2, compared with 8 per cent of Web3, said senior female US technology entrepreneurs during the session.

Web3 is the emerging third generation of the World Wide Web — blockchain, decentralisation, openness and greater user utility among its core components — while Web2 is the current iteration.

“We look forward to seeing more women coming into the Web3 space,” Olayinka Odeniran, founder and chairwoman of the Black Women Blockchain Council, which aims to inspire and train black women pursuing careers in blockchain and FinTech.

Ms Odeniran is a member of the Women of Web3 delegation, a team of female US technology entrepreneurs who are exploring Abu Dhabi's attractiveness as a potential gateway for the global expansion of their companies.

The Access Abu Dhabi initiative is powered by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (Adio) and Maven Global Access, which aims to help US companies led by women and minority entrepreneurs to expand in the UAE capital and serve as a gateway to the wider Middle East market.

Web3's market size is expected to be valued at about $6.2 billion in 2023 and is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 44.6 per cent from 2023 to 2030, according to Market Research Future.

Web2, which emerged in the early 2000s, resulted in the rise of more interactive web pages, with millions of people around the world able to view user-generated content in an instant.

It further exploded with the advent of powerful mobile devices, social networks and other media platforms.

Its mid-1990s predecessor, Web1, used static pages with limited interaction and functionality.

Web3 “means utopia” and is a vision of a place where all have similar opportunities and can enjoy the benefits of blockchain technology, said Ms Odeniran.

“Black women want to become creators of technology, not just consumers of it. Only a very small percentage of women globally are blockchain developers. When it comes to black women, this reduces to 0.01 per cent,” she said.

“Historically, there has been demographic restrictions for black women to enter certain aspects of the financial industry. With blockchain and Web3, we can get access and the barriers to entry are eliminated. We can participate on an even keel.”

Sandy Carter, senior vice-president and channel chief of Unstoppable Domains, a provider of NFT domains on the blockchain, said Web3 brings power back to the people.

“Web3 is being built on top of Web2. So, there are things that we need to work on, such as standards, costs and decentralisation,” Ms Carter said. “We need to make that innovative leap now.”

As part of the Access Abu Dhabi programme, delegations of notable Americans will gain an insider's experience of the UAE capital’s advanced infrastructure, hyper-connectivity, competitive talent pool, lifestyle and business opportunities.

These groups will help to spread the word of the emirate’s advantages among their respective communities back home, Adio said.

The UAE and US have enjoyed strong ties for decades. The Emirates has been the top export market for US goods in the Mena region since 2009, with a value of $14.75 billion, according to the UAE embassy in Washington.

Updated: May 27, 2022, 8:25 AM