Irish blockchain body for women aims to build awareness of technology

Blockchain Women Ireland includes figures from Department of Finance and BNY Mellon

A new Irish blockchain organisation for women has been established to build awareness of the much-hyped technology locally.

The organisation aims to provide a platform to build awareness of the potential for blockchain as a career for women, as well as highlighting educational opportunities and so on.

Among the founding members of Blockchain Women Ireland are representatives from the Department of Finance, BNY Mellon and the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Adapt research centre for digital content technology. Members of the group include Mai Santamaria, a senior financial director at the Department of Finance, and Joyce O'Connor, founding president of the National College of Ireland and chairwoman of the Institute of International and European Affairs' digital future working group.

Other members include Paula Kelleher, managing director of BNY Mellon's Irish unit; Laura Clifford, industry partnership manager of the Adapt Centre; Niamh O'Connell, a senior solutions consultant with etherum-focused start-up ConsenSys; and Emma Walker, managing director of Wachsman Ireland, a professional services firm for the blockchain sector.

Working group

Ms Santamaria recently wrote a discussion paper on virtual currencies and blockchain for the Department of Finance and leads a working group on the technology. She told The Irish Times the new organisation aimed to go beyond the hype to spell out what exact blockchain is.

“The reality is that it is hard to reach out to the blockchain community, particularly if you are a woman with an interest in technology but who isn’t necessarily a coder or similar. We’re trying to establish a network that will help those who want to know more about blockchain, to demystify it and to open doors for those who may want a career in the sector.”

While taking a cautious approach to the much-hyped technology, the Department of Finance is also part of the recently-formed Blockchain Ireland initiative, which is looking to position the State as a leading global centre. Other members include semi-State body IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

Blockchain technologies, which store blocks of information that are distributed across a network, are seen as a major breakthrough, as they bring about high levels of traceability and security in economic transactions online.

While most commonly associated to date with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and etherum, they are expected to affect digital services and transform business models in a wide range of areas, including healthcare, insurance, finance, energy, logistics, intellectual property rights management and government services.

An inaugural meeting of Blockchain Women Ireland takes place next Tuesday evening at 6.30pm at WeWork’s offices in Iveagh Court, off Charlemont Street in Dublin.