This is an opinion editorial by Tali Lindberg, co-founder of Free Market Kids, a company focused on financial literacy and Bitcoin education.
Author’s note: This is a politically-incorrect article because I’m about to make gross generalizations about men and women. If you are easily offended, you probably shouldn’t read on.
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When I first entered the Bitcoin space, I met a woman who asked me if I was interested in starting a woman’s Bitcoin meetup.
“I wish there was one,” she said.
At the time, I was a bit offended by the idea.
“Bitcoin is already a small space, why would we want to separate men and women?” I wondered.
Since then, I’ve had a change of heart.
Having participated in many Bitcoin events in different cities and states, I’ve noticed that women are always outnumbered by men… by a lot! I would estimate that 80% to 90% of the people I’ve met in the Bitcoin space are men.
This is a problem.
Women have the power to shape the future leaders of this world through their intimate bonds with their children. A baby who is born this year may enter adulthood in a world where fiat currency is a thing of the past, and bitcoin is the global, digital currency.
This timeline, however, will not be possible without having the buy-in of more women.
In this article, I will discuss what I’ve observed and make some recommendations on how to effectively introduce Bitcoin to more women.
Facts Vs. Stories
If you asked my husband what he thought about the state of the economy, he would immediately spout out facts about how our market is not free and how the government picks winners and losers. He would go on about zombie companies, malinvestment, how much the Federal Reserve inflates the money supply and how the chairman manipulates the interest rate, etc.
If you asked me the same question, on the other hand, I would talk about some of our elderly neighbors, and go into great detail about a recent conversation I had with a retired grandmother: Standing in the hot sun next to squawking hens as they pecked loudly and aggressively at their food, we discussed the challenges of protecting our chickens from predators and growing a garden, even though neither of us was passionate about farming.
(I can feel some of you getting impatient with me as you’re reading this. Get to the point, why don’t you? What does this have to do with the question? Well, hold on, I’m getting there!)
We chatted at length about prices going up and how raising chickens and growing gardens were our ways of hedging against crazy price increases at the grocery store. I would then tell you that she and her husband are on a fixed income and about her worry that, with the way things are going, one day soon she won’t be able to buy enough groceries to keep from going hungry.
In my mind, this is what the “state of our economy” means — the peoples’ stories. And in the presence of men, despite them being friendly, welcoming and very encouraging, I still feel pressure to cut out details and “get to the point.” On the other hand, in the presence of women, telling peoples’ stories often feels natural and easy because that’s the way many women hash out important topics.
This is a major difference between men and women: men typically get to the facts, and women tell stories.
Cigars And Whisky Vs. Tea And Biscuits
My husband and I have been on a mission to bring Bitcoin education to homeschoolers. In all of the conversations we’ve had, our experience has been that 90% of the women say the same thing: “I don’t understand Bitcoin, I don’t think I can figure it out. My husband handles the finances and investment decisions.”
Why would women, who are equally as educated and intelligent as their spouses, leave this vitally important knowledge solely to the care of men? Dare I say that this is because Bitcoin educational materials and learning environments tend to lean heavily toward the way men communicate?
Perhaps we need a women-to-women approach. Please don’t misunderstand me; I am not saying that women are incapable of understanding technical and factual information in the same way that men are. Both genders are equally capable. However, in our pursuit of equality, we must not lose sight of the fact that men and women differ not only biologically but also in the way they perceive and interact with the world.
When men gather, they can often exchange quick pleasantries and get right down to business. At the end of such a meeting, everyone feels satisfied. Most women in the same scenarios, however, would not feel satisfied. We need to visit first, ask about one another’s weeks, how the kids are doing and any challenges that we have faced during the week. We exchange stories and empathize to show that we care. To quote the famed sales guru Zig Ziglar, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Are we not all salespeople trying to sell the idea of Bitcoin? Maybe we can take a page out of Ziglar’s book.
Why Vs. What
When I first tried to read up on Bitcoin because of my husband’s insistent nudging, I found it exceptionally frustrating. There are many books on the market, numerous podcasts and a plethora of YouTube videos explaining Bitcoin. However, until I understood why Bitcoin is important to me personally, I would rather have done something else with my precious free time.
Charts and graphs and angry rants about the political landscape or the corrupt system wouldn’t convince me. Although these issues annoy me, I mostly chalk them up to things I can’t do anything about. My schedule is already full of more things to do than the time to do them. However, if you tell me a human story about someone facing hardship and difficult consequences due to the fallacies of our monetary system, then my anger at the injustice would propel me to do the necessary research and learn about how bitcoin is an alternative currency, not just a risky speculation or possibly a wild gamble.
To reach women en masse, we’ve got to focus on telling good stories about the “why” of Bitcoin.
It is not my intention to suggest that men and women Bitcoiners cannot benefit from the same meetups or education materials. Our society is currently obsessed with labeling everyone with some obscure name that separates them from each other. I don’t want to play that game. I am suggesting that if we are mindful of the audience we are trying to reach, perhaps we could craft our message differently to get our point across more successfully.
Here’s an example of how women perceive men talking about the why of Bitcoin — my niece drew the following comic strip to highlight what she had learned after listening to a Bitcoin podcast:
I wonder how different the comic strip would have looked if two women had done the podcast, even if they had discussed exactly the same topics and come to the same conclusions as the hosts of the podcast that my niece listened to.
Here are some suggestions based on my personal experiences in reaching precoiner women:
One: Anger Mama Bear!
Tell personal stories to share the why of Bitcoin. Following the story I shared earlier in this article about elderly retirees, most people would feel sympathetic toward them having to work in the hot sun day after day to grow their own food. But if you explained to a young mother who is lovingly and protectively cradling her newborn baby against her chest that the impending hyperinflation means her child would grow up to be in the same situation, having to literally labor in the field for food, you will have incited the most powerful force on earth: a mother’s instinct to protect her young. Now you’ll have a motivated individual who is ready to do whatever it takes to learn about this crazy thing called Bitcoin.
Two: Host Women’s Events
Remember that book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus”?
We need to embrace who we are. Being different is good, just as specialization is a positive force in truly free markets. Marketing a new and mysterious idea like Bitcoin can only be effective with customized messaging and delivery methods to reach different target audiences.
Recognize that women and men socialize differently and feel comfortable in different environments. When women talk to women, we have more freedom to express ourselves with an ease that is not as readily available in a co-ed gathering. This is not to say that men and women cannot speak to one another, but simply that certain conversations can feel more comfortable woman to woman.
Three: Less Is More
Don’t vomit facts and charts and numbers at a woman precoiner. You can’t “logic” women into Bitcoin. You have to emotionally persuade women into Bitcoin. Ask questions about their lives and concerns and let them have enough time to fully share.
Talking less is actually more persuasive than talking more. Allow the conversation to naturally develop to the point where they ask the first questions. That’s when you know the floor is yours. Share in small bits. Keep a low-time-preference mentality.
I hope this article helps men Bitcoiners to communicate more effectively with women and finds its way to women Bitcoiners who are willing to work together to reach other women in a way that only we can: woman to woman.
This is a guest post by Tali Lindberg. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.