Meet The Women Of The Blockchain: Dr. Jane Thomason
We had pleasure interviewing Dr. Jane Thomason CEO of Fintech Worldwide. She is a frontier technology and social impact thought leader, recognized in Forbes Magazine (2018) as Blockchain’s Leading Social Development Evangelist, and The Introducer (2019) as a Blockchain woman leader. She is the lead author of “Blockchain Technologies for Global Social Change” IGI Global 2019.
Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?
As a mother with a teenage son a few years back, I struggled with the amount of time my son and his friends played “World of Warcraft” and other video games. He insisted that what he was doing was productive and had prospects. Social pressure to get kids off the computer and limit their playing time was enormous.
I was wrong! Now I know that the World of Warcraft was, in fact, a meeting place for tech entrepreneurs and a training ground for future leaders, and a way to make a lot of money. Players learn how to work in teams and collaborate digitally; how to motivate volunteers; how to take strategic risks; work under pressure; be agile and accountable to the rest of the team.
The World of Warcraft gave my son key skills to be a business leader. Many successful gamers earn large incomes – so it was a pathway to employment in a career that didn’t exist then. In 2010 the price of Bitcoin was 10 cents. My son told me to buy Bitcoin as an investment. I ignored that advice and told him to focus on getting a job.
I was wrong! Bitcoin has gone as high as $20,000 and my son runs co-working spaces and accelerator programs for start-up’s and never really had a conventional job! When he told me about Blockchain – I just couldn’t ignore it! As I started to understand it, I realized how transformative it can be for the bottom billion.
I have spent my life working on problems of poverty and inequality, in the developing world. I realize that Blockchain if deployed and scaled, could solve some of the global problems of our time like climate change and poverty. So my focus for the past three years has been on trying to demystify the technology and explain the many ways that it can help us solve problems we have grappled with for decades. The lesson here is don’t be afraid to seize opportunities and run with them.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
Blockchain and Frontier Technologies in Humanitarian settings for women,,children and adolescents. I attach the Knowledge Brief I wrote as part of this work.
https://bit.ly/2KkZE5XWe have just finished a book on Blockchain Technologies for Global Social Change: https://www.igi-global.com/book/blockchain-technology-global-social-change/221876
We have recently taken over Fintech Worldwide, which runs London Fintech Week and London Blockchain Week, and we will be launching London Digital Impact Week in November.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I learn every day and I am grateful to all I learn from. I have learnt from stone age cultures as much as I have learned from books and Professors. I was very lucky to go to a school where there were no barriers for girls to pursue any career or life course.
What excited you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
I am continually inspired by the benefits that Blockchain can bring to the bottom billion “invisible” people on this planet.
Think of a poor woman who today does not have electricity, a bank account, or an ID and lives in a remote location. If she wants to get money (sent from a relative) – she has to walk or take public transport to the nearest town (which costs money), Western Union takes 15%, and there is a bus ride home. The reality of the situation could be that she is sent $200 and has to spend $120 on transport and $25 for Western Union and has spent 3 or 4 days to access only $65.
Think of the promise of technology – with only a 2G mobile phone – poor women can have access to: money, identity, micro grid solar power, direct access to sell produce and handicrafts globally, crowd funding money for projects, information on antenatal care visits, access to subsidies from government and a democracy platform to improve citizen engagement with the government. That is inspiring!
To empower a woman is to empower a nation. A woman will invest in her family and her community. Educated women are more likely to contribute to economic growth. I want to be a driving force to collaborate and make the promise of technology real for poor women and girls around the world.
We know that mobile phone ownership can transform the lives of women in the developing world, see the 2010 report by the GSMA and the Cherie Blair Foundation. In a recent study in developing countries, Intel’s Women and the Web, 77 percent of the women surveyed used the internet to further their education. The same report found that with $150 million, girls and women online could create a market opportunity of between US$50 Billion and US$70 Billion, and could contribute to an estimated US$13 Billion to US$18 Billion annually to developing countries’ GDP. The potential for technology to improve the lives of women and girls is immense.
What 3 things would you advise someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
I say to young people – “embrace technology, it is your future.”
To young women – “We need to be the change we want to see! “ We have to create the enabling environment for women to work in blockchain and technology. I think that tech generally is an ideal area for women – because it allows them flexible working hours and arrangements. Blockchain is a rapidly emerging technology with new use cases emerging on a weekly basis – that means opportunity! We need to help women and girls across the world to create their own future. If we think less about what others think and more about what we can do, individually and collectively – we will succeed. The next generation of women will be better off because technology will enable flexible working conditions and even transform childcare (self-driving cars and robots will be extremely helpful to mums!).
To nurture interest in new technology:
- Drive technology education and make coding ubiquitous; a language that all children learn from the start of their education. Schools should integrate analytical thinking, digital technologies, and coding into their curricula from the first day all children (boys and girls) start school. This will help overcome gender biases, as it is part of the core curriculum- ensuring that all girls learn it.
- Create new, awesome #womeninblockchainrole models. We need to create new stereotypes for women in tech who are smart and managing both tech and motherhood. Perhaps something a bit edgier than “Amy” from the “Big Bang Theory” – we need a female “Sheldon!” I like the way “People of Blockchain” are profiling the Blockchain community, maybe we need to do that for women around the world – finding female tech entrepreneurs across the globe and profiling them? Successful women need to give time to mentor younger women and help them succeed
- Free up access to funding. ICOs allow women to access funding, backed by the whitepaper published. Anyone can apply themselves to developing the next big start-up idea. Let’s develop an ICO support system that facilitates women with great ideas to mount an ICO. For example, education targeting young girls in schools will help nurture an interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain and encourage them to look at them as an opportunity. Crypto venture funds targeted at female founders could also help. Blockchain is open-source and growing. Women will help to design and develop tech products and services which will help to benefit women – creating new markets, boosting innovation and economic growth.
What kind of skill set would you be looking at in job applicants?
- Self Motivated
- Strong ethics and values
- Mental agility
- Able to multi-task
How can our readers follow you on social media?