Oxford Women in Computer Science (OxWoCS), a society at the University which “aims to promote and support women in science,” announced on October 31st that it will begin a series of collaborative workshops with the help of public blockchain platform Zilliqa. OxWoCS is already sponsored by companies including Google and Facebook.

Spaces at the workshop series will be limited to approximately 20 students per session. The first one, having taken place on the 31st, introduced students to blockchain, Bitcoin, and basic information about the industry and workshop series. The next three sessions will take place on November 7th, 14th, and 21st, and will introduce students to cod- ing a simple smart contract and business use-cases for a public blockchain, culminating in a demo day where qualifying entries will be evaluated for prizes. Those who excel in these workshops may be considered for Zilliqa’s Ecosystem Grant Program, which allows students to receive both funding and mentorship for their ideas. The sessions are hosted in the Department of Computer Science, and interested students can register through a Google Form linked in their Facebook event.

Zilliqa, a public blockchain platform based in Singapore, describes itself as “a high-through- put blockchain platform that achieves over 2,828 transactions per second in its testnet by the implementation of sharding.” Its developer marketing head Saiba Kataruka told Decrypt: “Diversity continues to be an endemic prob- lem in the wider tech industry, and blockchain is no different. We are excited to be embarking on this collaboration with OxWoCS to champion the involvement of more women in this rapidly evolving space.”

The blockchain industry has long suffered from a massive gender gap, with men taking up 85% of blockchain startup memberships. Data group LongHash, while researching a report on inclusivity in blockchain, found only one startup with more than one female executive. Fewer than five percent of GitHub cryptocontributors are women. The nascent industry has been compared to a “New England country club” in media for its shocking gender disparity, and this challenge is the one the workshop series aims to address.

Paula Fiddi, founder of OxWoCS, told Decrypt that “At OxWoCS, our goal is to ensure that female scientists are presented with equal opportunities to engage with various areas of the tech industry. From established fields of research to nascent disciplines ripe for exploration, it’s important that women are adequately represented in order to champion diversity both in action and in practice.”