Fundamentally, the promise of Web 3.0 relies on decentralization enabled by blockchain and the ability for internet users to take ownership of their content. While these aims may be construed from the outset as primarily technical in nature, their success will be equally dependent on community adoption. Even the most disruptive technologies have historically fallen short of expectations – as evidenced by the Betamax and VHS format wars of the 1980s – if they are not representative of their consumers (1). Similarly, a Web 3.0 that works for everyone necessitates diverse inputs and an inclusive ecosystem.
Although Web 3.0 is still in its nascency, gender gaps ranging from engineers developing underlying protocols to laypeople participating in a network, could present a substantial bottleneck for the industry’s growth. Today, only 26% of crypto investors are women and just under 18% of blockchain-based startups with venture funding include a female founder (2). While the lack of gender diversity in the tech sector is an age-old issue, as 92% of software developers are male, such antiquated hierarchies are antithetical to the principles of inclusion and ownership that embody Web 3.0 (3).
H.E.R. DAO has emerged as a leading launchpad that supports women and other marginalized communities in their pursuit of blockchain ventures and serves to sustainably diversify the broader ecosystem. As a decentralized autonomous organization (“DAO”) that is holistic (“H”), promotes emancipation (“E”) and functions as a resource (“R”) to those who might be otherwise underrepresented, H.E.R. DAO leverages core tenets of Web 3.0 to address gender inequities in the space. Since its inception by Tracey Bowen and launch at EthDenver 2022, H.E.R. DAO has already made tremendous progress towards this goal through its support of hackathons, mentorship collective and global presence.
DAO members make proposals and vote on modifications to smart contracts upon which the organization operates. Specifically, members of H.E.R. DAO will have the opportunity to become “contributors” by working within seven unique “guilds” that include community relations, developer support and treasury management. With this distribution of tasks, H.E.R. DAO can efficiently utilize the wide range of skillsets across its membership.
To date, H.E.R. DAO funded over 500 scholarships for women to attend Web 3.0 events. Not only has this support provided opportunities to learn more about the industry, but it also materialized into 80 teams that participated – and won awards in excess of $250,000 – at hackathons. While hackathons are often places to ideate and theorize, it is noteworthy that 20% of the teams supported by H.E.R. DAO have continued to build out their projects post-hackathon.
Through its deep mentorship network, H.E.R. DAO can uniquely provide guidance to its members while incubating early-stage concepts. In many ways, this could help mitigate risks for founders as they “cross the chasm” from prototype development and into product growth. In spite of existing gender disparities in venture capital and amongst venture-backed startups, research has demonstrated that there is substantial return on investment (“ROI”) for supporting female entrepreneurs. In fact, it has been shown that large companies with greater gender diversity in management roles significantly outperform their more homogenous counterparts (4).As it relates to startup companies, male-run startups, despite having greater access to capital, have been shown to generate less than 50% ROI when compared to female-run startups (5).
Recently, H.E.R. DAO has launched its own Startup House to bolster its commitment to projects identified as having high growth potential. With a reach of over 15K individuals through its online community and more than one million impressions generated in the past year, H.E.R. DAO has built a sizeable engagement platform and distribution channel. Moreover, as the organization has established global sub-chapters in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America, H.E.R. DAO has further demonstrated that the relationship capital it provides to its members is truly borderless.
In furtherance of its mission to onboard women into Web 3.0, H.E.R. DAO has also partnered with Minority Programmers, a global developer network, to release a non-fungible token (“NFT”) collection called H.E.R. x Minority (6). Not only do these NFTs celebrate the diversity of Web 3.0 developers, but a portion of proceeds generated from their sales supports the work of H.E.R. DAO. In the coming months, this includes an event alongside Solana, a meetup at NFT Paris and sponsorship of a Hacker House at EthDenver.
Decentralization of the internet cannot happen in a hierarchical framework that restricts participation. Thus, increasing diversity and representation in Web 3.0 – particularly by closing gender gaps – will improve the ecosystem for everyone. In a short time, H.E.R. DAO has served as a catalyst for inclusion in this space and a model for how DAOs can utilize blockchain for social good.
1. Even though Sony had built superior technology through Betamax, JVC captured the market because VHS was both accessible and in alignment with consumer needs. Jamie Logie, Beta v. VHS: The Story of the First Format War, The Startup (September 11, 2020) .
6. NFTs can be minted on the Polygon blockchain for 200 MATIC (excluding gas fees) or obtained through the OpenSea secondary market. Her Drop .