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Meet the women advocating for an inclusive Web3 space in South Florida and beyond

on January 16, 2022 / by Riley Kaminer ,

Read Time 3 Minutes

Michelle Abbs, event organizer (right).

The startup world has a long way to go when it comes to gender diversity. While just under half of all employed people in the US identify as female, just a quarter hold computing roles. In 2020, women-led startups received only 2.3% of VC funding. While the proportion of dollars allocated to female founders seems to have increased in 2021, the gender balance of VC funding is still far from parity.

Michelle Abbs, Managing Director of Mana Tech, is on a mission to bring equity to the startup space. In particular, Abbs is focused on Web3, which includes blockchain-powered innovations like cryptocurrency, NFTs, and the metaverse.

“To me, Web3 represents the opportunity to build the architecture and the baseline for inclusion and equity,” she told South Florida Tech Hub

“We don’t have to fix and clean up 40 years of bias that’s baked into our way of building,” Abbs continued. “Rather, we could actually build it with women at the forefront and women benefiting from the upside of it.”

Some of the event attendees

Abbs, who has been active in the Miami tech scene for the last seven years, first began to dive deep into the world of NFTs over the summer. “Immediately, I realized there was so much potential” in this corner of the crypto world, she said. “I wanted to make sure that I’m a part of it, so I dove all the way in.” 

Through her work at Mana Tech, Abbs organized NFT BZL, a daylong conference that brought some of the leading NFT innovators to Miami. 

Still, the crypto space is far from gender diverse. According to CNBC research conducted in August 2021, half as many women invest in cryptocurrency as men (7% vs. 16%). 

However, Abbs is spearheading a campaign to get more women involved in Web3, and South Florida is at the center of her plans. “After NFT BZL, I was getting tons of questions from female friends about crypto,” she explained. “I wanted to create a safe space for us to learn and participate in Web3 so that we are there at the beginning, building with both men and women at the helm.”

On Christmas eve, Abbs decided to start a group chat with some friends where they could share resources to learn about crypto and NFTs. Now just a few weeks later, Abbs reports that the group has grown to almost 200 people. “The teacher in me came out,” Abbs said, underscoring the years she spent as an educator and a Teach for America leader as great training for creating this group where people teach each other about crypto.

Last week, 30 people attended a Women in Web3 dinner, which was the first in-person event for this group (a further 18 people had to be waitlisted because of venue capacity). The event’s sponsors included the Pishevar Haynes Foundation, Dr. Sarah Haynes Collective, Nabyl Charania, and Brex.

Elizabeth Irizarry, event attendee

Elizabeth Irizarry, one of the dinner’s attendees, said that the rise of Web3 represents a particularly important inflection point for women in Miami. “This is the only city with a concentration on Women & Web3 where we actually support each other not just virtually but IRL. Sharing resources and building equity. Never in the years I have lived here have I seen this much outpouring of support and innovation that is actually reachable. There are a lot of local projects surfacing that are women led and as well as free resources to educate women in Web3. This is our time!”

Abbs’ advice to women interested in crypto? “Jump in: do your own research but don’t be scared.” Both Irizarry and Abbs echod the crypto refrain, WAGMI: “We’re All Gonna Make It.” 

Are you interested in getting involved in the web3 equity movement in South Florida? Follow @web3equity on Twitter for the latest updates.

Image credit: @Fordofilmz.

Meet the women advocating for an inclusive Web3 space in South Florida and beyond