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Female In Blockchain: Asmita “Asmee” Dhungana

Tell us about yourself

I am Asmita Dhungana, an undergraduate student pursuing Bachelor of Computer Science in Kathmandu University, Nepal. However, my birthplace is the heart of Nepal, Pokhara. Currently, I am a blockchain developer intern at a Silicon Valley based startup called Ibriz.ai. I am highly aligned to technological advancements directed towards the better of humanity and the world. With many encouraging ups and downs, I try to keep up with the belief that life is not something that we should let go without exploring its full potential.

How do you assess a tech scenario in Nepal?

 To be frank about the tech scenario in Nepal, I think we’re still far away in regard to adoption and benefitting from the advancement of technology. Although now, I feel like the dynamics are changing slowly and more people are realizing the power of technology, be it in regards to luxury and assessment of online shopping or actual possibility of solving real world problems, somehow I see technology more in possession to people residing in this domain than others in Nepal. I can see this spreading to wider people soon if we bring forward ideas that can reach every common citizen and support in making their lives easier too! I also have to say that it is highly obscured by gender-based monopoly. The major population that are making a career out of technology in Nepal are men and the ones benefiting from it are men too. Even in the office I’m interning at currently, I am the only female developer out of 20 developers! The participation of women in tech is minimal to the point that it is discouraging at times! There are very few women to look up to in tech field here! 

How did you get into blockchain development?

I always had a drive to get better at those niche fields of technology primarily to prove point that girls can not only perform equally but also thrive in new field of technology. “Technology is not for girls”, I have had multiple encounters of this ignorance pushed to me by male colleagues at college/society. And I always wanted to excel in those field . In the year 2017, I first heard of blockchain as a “must-know” technology. Since then I started researching and educating myself about this field. In my 5th semester, we did a DApp project for a voting scenario where I had hands on experience of this technology. That seed of exposure to technology along with my tenacity has taken me far enough to do real world blockchain based projects. Throughout this journey of learning I am more convinced that this technology is indeed needed for a transparent and decentralized world.

What aspect of blockchain are you working on? What about blockchain excites you the most?

Currently, I’m working mostly on smart contract development in Ethereum and EVM based blockchains like Harmony and Celo (in association with Ibriz.ai, the company I’m interning in at the moment) and making decentralised applications (DApps) for them. Lately, I’ve also acquired interest in Fintech and the influence that blockchain can have in the financial world, so I’m working on gathering information and implementing that knowledge in my personal projects.

The thing that has always held my excitement in blockchain is the possibility of an equal and unbiased world that it promises. Having lived in a society oppressed by monopoly, the idea that path to freedom and equity exists and is attainable, has been the most satisfying and liberating feeling I’ve gotten through the exploration of this technology.From building a tamper proof voting system to introducing corruption free governance: the possibilities are endless, and this has been the most optimistic side of Blockchain exploration for me.

What is it like being a female developer in blockchain technology? Any ups or downs?

I think being a female developer in blockchain technology is a pure bliss! I see a lot of opportunities for women in this technology and can’t wait to have more females join me! As I’ve said earlier, females have a lot of reasons to feel like an imposter when it comes to technology and competing with males. Although the first programmer in history was a woman, the legacy that follows for females has been shadowed by utter male dominance!

But being an early adopter of blockchain technology has allowed me to be at the forefront of the technology. With real world project on my belt, I feel more empowered even though there are times when I need to prove as a female that I am equally competent as my male counterpart.

What can we do to improve the diversity of women in tech?

Women are very diverse by nature, so in technology too, once they enter, it’s sure to benefit from their diversity! Since the root prevails in lack of participation of women firsthand in this field, what I think needs to be worked upon is showing them the ever increasing possibilities for women in tech.Technology has had the taste of men, what it lacks is women’s taste and flavor and that… everybody has started realizing now! I’d say this is the best time for women to join tech… and by making them aware of this fact that their demand is soaring in this field would encourage them to join tech. I’d also say that they need to be made aware that just because boys usually play more video games than you, doesn’t mean they understand technology better. If only we could show the females how committing few lines of codes is actually revolutionizing the world and transforming our life, I think more females would be encouraged to join this sector. Another aspect is to actually educate the recruiters and human resources folks to introduce the diverse talents within the team itself. Equal pay, respect and encouragement will always entice women into tech space.

How would you describe “blockchain” technology to someone with very little knowledge about tech?

To explain blockchain in any certain way, I guess is an incomplete business. Blockchain is fundamentally an advance based on economics, not computer science and goes beyond economics to philosophy!

In general words, it is a distributed global ledger governed and shared by thousands of computers around the world which facilitates the recording of transactions in a network. Although it arose with the invention of the digital currency Bitcoin in 2009, it provides the means for recording any transaction or tracking the movement of any asset (tangible like cash, gold or real state or intangible like copyrights, intellectual property and licenses), not just a digital currency!  It’s breakthrough strategy has been a cunning one: rather than making the tampering impossible, it creates incentives such that tampering would be unprofitable for anyone hence every participant profits from working for the benefit of the system! It stores data in blocks that are linked together in a chain, hence the name blockchain. Blocks are added to the blockchain based on a set of rules agreed on by the network participants. This way, as the transaction volume grows, so does the blockchain and each block strengthens the verification of the previous block. Each block contains a “hash”, or a digital fingerprint, a timestamped batch of valid transactions, and the hash of the previous block in the chain which links the blocks together and prevents any block(or data) from being altered or changed in order. This very nature of blockchain makes it a decentralized network(it is spread across many different parties) and results in an increase in transparency since copies of the ledger are stored on every block. Once a data is written in the chain, it is broadcasted to all the computers in the network, and thus, it is impossible to erase it, modify it or undo it without gaining over 51% of the network authority(which is next to impossible). Depending upon the nature of the chain(public, permissioned or private), the data in it is transparent and verifiable by anyone with rightful access to it. It’s more famous as a peer-to-peer service where the only intermediary that comes into play is a bunch of powerful software codes that run in thousands of computers around the world. The best thing about this is that there’s no central server that gets to use our data or manipulate it! The automation, verification and consensus logic that drives a blockchain is modeled to be so secure that anyone participating in transacting with anything in the network can blindly trust another participant in the network.

Any final words ?

We’re a citizen of a world that still has many problems to eradicate. Power has been ruling this world for a long time, be it economical, resourceful, political or technological. The rich just keep getting richer and the poor keep getting pushed behind. Our personal data has become a research tool for others and our hard earned taxes, a corruption market! We have a hard time figuring out who to trust and whom not to!

We are advancing in technology and it’s making our lives easier but that doesn’t mean we are ready to be monopolized in this sector too! In this regard, I think blockchain is a revolutionary technology that was born with the purpose of decentralizing power and trust and if we give it a shot, our world will take one more leap towards a better future!

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Anil
Anil is an avid learner and a technologist who likes to learn and create products that empowers people.
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