Emma Olsen is the head of PR at MinerGate, a crypto mining software company that has been operating since 2014. She talks with BitIRA about the crypto mining community and also the challenges for women in the (predominantly-male) blockchain industry.
BitIRA: What drove MinerGate to be founded? These days, what sets it apart from its competitors?
Emma Olsen: Well, in fact, let me introduce myself to start. My name is Emma Olsen, I’m from Nijmegen, Holland. I’m 28 years old, and since July 2018 I have been working as a head of PR at MinerGate, one of the largest crypto mining pools in the world.
The founder and CEO of the company, Claude Lecomte, launched MinerGate in 2014 as a very simple crypto pool for crypto newcomers. A defining feature of the product is xFast miner, which is indeed faster than those of our competitors. What is more, MinerGate became an EOS Block Producer recently. We have already formed a partnership with Lumi Wallet, and we are working on the MinerGate DAC Foundation. I should also mention the recent addition of the Grin coin. So yeah, we are pretty busy.
BitIRA: MinerGate interacts with a wide range of crypto enthusiasts. What cultural trends and shifts have you observed in the crypto mining community?
Emma: Well, the crypto mining community is international, and people from all over the world are passionate about it. I would say the main cultural trend in the mining community is that it’s truly cosmopolitan: your gender, race, nationality or religion is not critical to how you are received.
The focus is more heavily on how everybody here somehow shares faith in crypto. I haven’t seen many non-enthusiasts here, both among the common users and top-ranked management. Everybody is taking the market rollercoaster almost personally. It has done much in the way of bonding all of us. And you start feeling the interconnectedness as soon as you get involved.
BitIRA: We connected over the difficulties of being a woman in crypto. What have been the key challenges that have shaped your professional identity? What advice do you have for women who might feel discouraged from entering the industry?
Emma: To be honest, it’s a very complicated question. I don’t want to discredit the whole industry, but let’s take a look at the numbers – according to coin360 statistics, of those engaged in Bitcoin, just 8.78% are female and 91.22% are male. That trend is bound to affect the industry. We’ve all heard the stories and read about sexism in crypto. That said, I’d like to focus on positive changes.
Since 2016, I see more and more women in the industry. Despite how the crypto industry is very masculine, I’ve never been harassed on the MG team. In fact, about 40% of my colleagues are women. That’s very much what I like about our team: everything depends on your working skills. Nobody pays attention to your gender, how you look or what color your skin is. I’m lucky with this, and get reminded of it outside of MG. I’ve received some highly offensive comments on the Internet and met some narrow-minded people at Meetups. That said, I have to admit that it has never affected my career.
However, my story about how I got involved in crypto is pretty random. I was working in a PR agency, but that wasn’t enough for me – I wanted to do more. I wanted to deliver something to this world and to work with cutting-edge technologies. I became interested in fintech, and that is how I first met Bitcoin. I was trading a little and started to think that I could find a job in crypto. After long months of job searching and a couple of interviews, I found the job I wanted.
Now I’m the head of PR at MinerGate, a very big IT company. My job has a lot of responsibilities: I’m in charge of Public Relations, and I operate as a mediator between the company and crypto news media of all sorts, from Business Insider to obscure bloggers. My work is speaking to people and that’s what I love to do most.
My story doesn’t look like a “Sex and the City” episode. I’ve had a very challenging path to have a very responsible job in a sexist industry. But I’m sure that everything will change soon. To every woman who isn’t involved in crypto yet wants to be, I say – believe in yourselves. In fact, it doesn’t really matter if you are a girl or a boy, you will be able to work it out, whoever you are if you put the work in. Persist to make your worth be measured by your merit. Don’t give up and follow your dreams, even if it sounds trite.
BitIRA: What changes do you think should come next in the crypto community?
Emma: Recently some of the bigger crypto companies have been focusing on getting women involved in crypto, and that’s good. On the one hand, I believe that a woman should be hired not because of their gender, or because having a woman in your team is something lit; a woman should be hired because she is competent. On the other hand, I believe that increasing gender diversity on teams is a positive trend. This will pave the way for more talent to thrive.
Just having women in the crypto workplace is not enough; a female CEO is still considered a phenomenon. But times are changing and in 20 years we will see more ladies in top management. I’m an optimist.