By allowing the public to invest in a company directly, rather than a small group of investors with a potential bias, blockchain has the potential to make startups more democratic and remove gender barriers, writes Moms Avenue entrepreneur Evelina Bajorune.

So if ICO’s are going to help more women enter the industry, what else has been stopping them so far? The main factor is the implicit assumption that women can’t code or aren’t good with technology.

The blockchain industry is quickly developing into the most talked about the technology of this decade. Other major technological advances, namely artificial intelligence and CRISPR, haven’t reached the mainstream in the same way because of the democratic nature of blockchain. Unlike the other two technologies, it is actually very easy to invest in blockchain technology.

There are a few ways to do this. First, you could just buy a cryptocurrency to either hold as a long-term investment or trade for short-term profits. But if you want to take more risk, you can directly invest in companies by purchasing their “tokens” in an ICO, or initial coin offering. Similar to an IPO, an ICO is an early stage of fundraising that is generally accessible to the public. What makes it different from an IPO is how early in the company-building process it can occur.

Usually, when a start-up is founded it starts off with some founder’s capital and they look for seed capital in order to build the product. Then you have angel investors and venture capital funding it at various stages as the company scales. Finally, once it reaches a point where it would benefit from having a lot more capital and it is relatively proven, it is opened up on the markets to the entire public. However, when a start-up follows the ICO route, they can raise money from the public almost right away.

The result of this innovation is that it is much easier to bypass gatekeepers such as venture capitalists and other early-stage investors and gain support from the public right away. For those who struggled to obtain funding beforehand, this is a key innovation that will enable many more companies to be built.

It is often said that white men control so much of America’s wealth due to legacy and biases. However true this may be, you cannot argue with the fact they hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, and there are very few women who are active in the start-up community compared to the total startup population. If you attribute this to some sort of a bias in the early stages of investing, then it is easy to make the jump to believing ICO’s will be more democratic.

By allowing the public to invest in a company immediately, rather than a small group of investors with a potential bias, you can remove the barriers to getting them the proper funding for their projects. This is what is meant by “democratic markets”. You can have everyone voting for what is a good product or idea, rather than having the only high net worth individuals in the industry doing so.

So if ICO’s are going to help more women enter the industry, what else has been stopping them so far? The main factor is the implicit assumption that women can’t code or aren’t good with technology. It is true that men are generally more risk averse and attracted to programming than women, but that doesn’t explain why there is such a small representation of women in the industry.

This once again can be attributed to the sector being run by a small group whose biases prevent equal opportunity from occurring. There are very few blockchain projects who are run by women as of yet, but as the bias disappears and the ICO market grows, this will change. ICO’s will unlock the potential of a lot of women in the industry who have great ideas but have been unable to get funding for them thus far.

Let’s make FIRST Women-Focused ICO together— First Blockchain Powered Social Entrepreneurship Platform Designed for Women.