Women Pioneers in Crypto: Medha Parlikar, CasperLabs

Builders Mar 27, 2023

Since Satoshi released the bitcoin whitepaper in 2009, the evolution of the crypto industry has displayed an adoption curve similar to that of the internet. Today, millions of people around the world rely on Web3 for a variety of uses – yet there is a valuable component notably underrepresented in its story: women.

According to recent data, only 5% of crypto builders (founders) are women, less than 20% of crypto owners are women, only 29% of NFT artists are women, and only 9% of women that have heard of crypto feel they know enough about the asset class.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to spotlight several women pioneers in crypto to hear their stories, get their advice for women looking to break into crypto, and learn how being a woman gives them an edge in crypto.

This week, we are profiling Medha Parlikar, Co-Founder and CTO of CasperLabs, which provides enterprise-grade software and professional services to organizations building on the Casper Blockchain.

1. The crypto world seems to mirror the tech and finance worlds in terms of gender; there are women, but the space is heavily male-dominated. What are your thoughts on the dearth of women representation in the crypto space?

You’re absolutely right. It’s the unfortunate reality we’ve been facing since the broader blockchain space’s  inception, and progress still isn’t happening as fast as it should.

That said, bearish markets like this one are often the times most conducive to innovating and coming up with big, new ideas. It’s a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, just like I did in 2018 – when I co-founded Casper Labs.

I’m quite proud to help pave the way for more women to usher the blockchain space into a new era – though we’ve undoubtedly still got a lot of work to do in terms of opening doors to make this a more accessible industry. But make no mistake:  progress is happening. At Casper Labs’ annual Blockchain Hub in Switzerland, I moderated a panel with two amazing female leaders in this space: IPwe’s President Leann Pinto and Hyperledger Foundation’s Daniela Barbosa – each of whom played a critical role in realizing the largest-ever blockchain deployment earlier this year. We’re in the midst of a critical time for this space, and having more women in leadership positions will only propel forward this industry that – like women in tech – is often cast as an “outsider.”

2. Were there any unique challenges you had when breaking into the crypto space? How did you do it?

I came from a more traditional enterprise background (Adobe, Avalara, mp3.com, among others) – a stark contrast to the blockchain space I entered 5 years ago. One of the biggest challenges in co-founding Casper Labs was building a team that was composed of mathematicians, researchers and engineers. These are very different personas, getting researchers and engineers to collaborate to build something is challenging to say the least!

Getting to the other side was a matter of balancing existing best practices, while remaining open to new ideas, approaches, and nuances of working in the blockchain space.

3. Has being a woman gives you an edge in crypto? How has it helped you?

Women have a unique ability to manage multiple work streams at one time. Many women today juggle a lot of different tasks at the same time. That skill, without question, has helped me a lot in my career.  Additionally, being a mother of three children helped me to develop a side of myself that allows me to nurture the engineering team and take care of them. It’s helped me develop a more humanistic approach to leadership.

4. What is some actionable advice you can give to young women looking to get a job in crypto?

My biggest piece of advice to any women in blockchain or crypto is to never lose the drive to keep working hard and overcome roadblocks in your career. Believe in yourself and keep pushing ahead and proving all the doubters wrong – all of them.

Find mentors you can trust, and recognize that challenging times like this are often the most fruitful for entering new territory and coming up with big ideas. Now is the time to bring new thinking into the blockchain world, and ultimately pave the way for the next generation of young women aspiring to change the tech world.

Breaking into a new space, like anything else, is about persistence. Embrace failure and learning, and you’ll get better every day. And remember, you are still early to blockchain and have plenty of time to learn – so, go learn!

5. What other women leaders in crypto do you look up to?  

So many! One who comes immediately to mind is Chris Forrester, CTO of Shyft Network. She is one of very few female CTOs in the space and I simply think she is awesome – in so many ways.

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