Both the art and tech worlds have been accused of being male-dominated industries. So one could safely assume that NFT art would only compound those issues.
But is that really the case? The truth is: yes and no.
While women artists account for only a fraction of NFT sales, they are doing better in the new market than in the traditional world of fine art.
But while the state of affairs isn’t great, the trend is moving in the right direction: as more and more digital women artists are making headlines, there has been a general movement to get more women producing more NFTs, as well as giving them more visibility and support.
Where do women currently stand within the NFT ecosystem? And where are things headed?
Let’s take a look.
Fighting for Visibility and Representation
Let’s start with a paradox. Although the decentralization of the NFT space supposedly gives artists equal access to collectors and investors, most highest-grossing NFT artists have been men, from Beeple to Larva Labs cofounders John Watkinson and Matt Hall.
Additionally, many have noticed that a lot of top artists on curated, application-based platforms have also been male. And more generally, research has shown that women make up only about 15% of crypto users.
With all this information, it would be rather easy to conclude that the NFT space is saturated with men, with a noticeably lower percentage of women and minorities involved in the community.
But as more artists transitioned into the NFT industry over time, women have started earning more visibility in the space. That’s partly due to the involvement of some prominent figures such as Gary Vee or Reese Witherspoon, who very publicly announced their interest and support for women-led NFT projects or artworks.
More interestingly, though, women have created communities to advocate for gender inclusivity by amplifying and promoting art by women artists or anyone who identifies as such.
As early as 2020, women artists were \well aware of the need to help each other to make their presence felt. This is how Women of Crypto Art (WOCA), which was formed in 2020 by NFT artists and collectors Etta Tottie, Angie Taylor, Stina Jones, GiselXFlorez, and Sparrow, came about.
Interestingly, and despite the name of the collective, the way they promote women is not political: “Many our artists don’t make a big deal about their gender as: ‘art is art.’ […] WOCA exhibitions are not about buying art based on gender. They are a celebration of the vast amount of female talent out there that may not have been previously showcased in other exhibitions.”
Supporting Each Other…
The same idea of mutual support and educating women in mastering the crypto market lies at the core of Women In NFT. The project was launched in November 2021 by NFT photographer Lori Grace Bailey. With one main objective: elevate “women and underrepresented artists/photographers to succeed in the NFT /Web 3.0 space.”
Similarly, the upcoming Women of Crypto project pledges to “restlessly work towards the education and empowerment of underrepresented individuals” and to “bridge the gender gap and to inspire and invigorate more women to participate in the world of crypto.”
As for the now super famous World of Women project (more on that in next week’s post – stay tuned), they airdrop pieces by emerging NFT artists from around the world on a monthly basis. With the desired objective to give more visibility to a selection of otherwise underrepresented artists, many of whom women.
… And Driving Social Change
Even more impressive is the ability of some women-led NFT projects to harness NFTs as a tool to drive social change. And bring some good to the world in general, and to their peers in particular.
Women Rise, a collection of unique NFT art pieces celebrating women activists, artists, scientists and coders internationally, recently donated 4.375 ETH to the Malala Fund. Its founder Maliha Abidi is planning to back 3 additional organizations promoting women’s rights & girls’ education in the near future, as well as, ultimately, to build the first school in the metaverse.
Sara Baumann’s project Women and Weapons, a collection of “10,000 diverse, beautiful, and badass women NFTs”, also gives a part of its proceeds to the Malala Fund. As for artist Ashley DCan, creator of 2 distinct projects (Crypto Titties and She Survives), she has chosen to give 25% of all sales to Breast Cancer Awareness.
Circling back to World of Women, 5 percent of the proceeds of its sales were donated to She’s the First and Too Young to Wed, which are charities promoting girls’ education and the end of child marriage. It has also hosted a number of auctions, raising $49,000 for Rockflower, an investment fund for entrepreneurial girls in developing countries.
So Where Does That Leave Us?
Despite the undeniable struggles that women have to face in the NFT world, it is interesting to see that the space constitutes a new arena of freedom for at least some of them.
As photographer Natalie Shau puts it:
The NFT world opens a new era of emancipation, better representation and bigger creative liberty for women.
Let’s hope that we all the great initiatives around, they will manage to benefit from it.
Next week: Part 2 of our Women in NFTs series: A Look Into Women-Led PFP Projects
Credits for banner image: World of Women, Women and Weapons, Women Rise and Crypto Titties.
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