It’s no secret that the blockchain ecosystem is a largely male-dominated field. And when Italian models are the subject under discussion, it’s usually the latest Lamborghini.
In fact, recent statistics suggest that only 5% to 7% of all cryptocurrency traders are women, contributing to a “boy’s club” environment that ill-befits the current era of female empowerment. Some of the most influential women now breaking gender stereotypes in blockchain, however, are coming from an unexpected space – the world of international modeling.
Cryptocurrency investors experienced wealth creation in excess of $85 billion over the course of 2017, but only $5 billion of this sum was captured by female investors. While the fashion industry is highly profitable for a select group of top models and agencies, there are now thousands of fashion models that are turning to cryptocurrency investment to supplement their income.
Champagne & Shared Apartments: The Reality of Fashion Finance
While most of us imagine the life of a high fashion model to involve jet-setting to exotic locations, high society parties, and designer clothing, the daily life of many models is far from luxurious. The life of a fashion model involves endless hours in line waiting for castings, shared apartment accommodation, and often extremely exploitative contractual agreements.
Average gender pay disparity across the industry courtesy of Drapers
Drapers’ Salary Survey 2017 has revealed that the gender pay gap is highly prevalent in the fashion industry. Women working in fashion earn on average £22,000 less than their male colleagues annually.
Conversely, however, many women working as models in the fashion industry earn significantly more than men, with female models taking home up to 75% more than male models. This provides fintech-savvy models with capital that allows them to invest in the crypto market. Elizabeth Rose of London-based Premier Model Management has commented on the inverse pay disparity:
“I think it’s the only industry where men get paid less than women. It’s unfair for men [and] I wouldn’t say it’s female empowerment at all.”
Inside the High Fashion Model Crypto Trading Sisterhood
A fashion model will be signed with a ‘mother agency’ that will organize shoots and jobs around the world, which means a model may spend a significant amount of time in different countries. The highly liquid and easily transferable nature of cryptocurrency makes it the ideal medium for transferring value for these models— you may have even traded crypto for fiat on LocalBitcoins with a fashion model and not known it.
Polina Malinovskaya, a model for Major Model Management Milan, is an active cryptocurrency investor who shares trading signals and tips with a closed group of models, helping each other break into the market and disrupting the paradigm of the male-only crypto environment.
“There’s a need for more female mentors in the cryptocurrency space. There’s a definite bias toward male traders in the market. By sharing investment knowledge between each other we’re helping fashion models break stereotypes and empower themselves to be financially independent.”
Christina Bertevello, meanwhile, a fashion influencer based in Milan, uses cryptocurrency as a means of avoiding high exchange rates when traveling internationally for work.
“Having the opportunity to capitalize on market swings and multiply the value of my earnings directly into local fiat currencies is a major win for me, as I travel frequently.”
Eileen Oberti is a fashion model living in Phuket, Thailand, and she is heavily invested in the day trading scene.
“I began trading crypto after a casual conversation with another model at a Nike shoot in 2017. Trading takes up most of my time now— I’m active on Binance & Bittrex, but still trying to wrap my head around the finer points of technical analysis. We need more accessible information for women in blockchain.”
It’s not only female models that are getting involved in the crypto space, however. Kayden Hesketh, a South African male model from Cape Town, says that holding his capital in more stable cryptos helps him minimize the impact of the volatility of the Rand.
“Cryptocurrency is something I can stand behind as I feel like it’s a good future alternative rather than standard banking… There’s a little quote I like by Paul Vigna — ‘the blockchain keeps everyone honest, the whole layer of banking bureaucracy is removed, lowering costs’.”
Financial Independence IS Independence
While the contributing factors to gender gaps in both tech and finance are complex, one of the root causes of systemic gender imbalance in blockchain is the fact that talented, interested women can often be hesitant to dive in due to unwelcoming— or even hostile— established male-centric communities. Over the last few months, the high-profile falls from grace of powerful men in politics and entertainment have demonstrated that women are ready and willing to seize the opportunities they deserve.
With entrepreneurs such as Malinovskaya, Bertevello, Oberti, and others all helping to increase the awareness and adoption of cryptocurrencies within a strongly female-skewed environment, it’s clear that blockchain technology has the ability to promote equality and independence for everyone.