When Mercedes Bent, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, first came across the Crypto Coven in November, she realized she d finally found a Web community that felt like a good fit, rather than the groups full of crypto bros she d previously encountered.

That has its place, but at the same time, it s not always the most welcoming culture, she said. I was looking for community.

The Crypto Coven, a nonfungible-token project featuring digital art that depicts a variety of witches, has gained a strong following among women in venture capital. For Bent, it ended up being a gateway to a broad array of other crypto-focused groups, such as the Komorebi Collective, a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, focused on investing in female and nonbinary crypto founders.

While the world of Web — the term used to describe an emerging assortment of online technology such as crypto — includes some prominent women, such as the investor Katie Haun and FTX Ventures Amy Wu, it s garnered a reputation as a male-dominated playground, replete with strip-club after-parties and high-profile Twitter feuds.

In a Pew Research Center poll, % of US female respondents said they had used a cryptocurrency, versus % of US male respondents. It s a disparity that parallels the gender gap in venture capital, where just % of US investors are women, according to the National Venture Capital Association and Deloitte.

But female venture capitalists such as Bent are seeking to nip those disparities in the bud while Web is still in its infancy, instead of repeating mistakes of the past.

And as investors plow money into the hot crypto sector, these women are also working to ensure they receive their fair share. Over the past few months, women-focused Web groups, such as Komorebi, Eve Wealth, and BFF, have sprung up, enabling female VCs to get up to speed on crypto and share deal flow.

Web is very participatory, said Jules Miller, a partner at Mindset Ventures, who is a member of several DAOs.

Alana Podrx always had an interest in educating women on finance. As the concept of decentralized finance gained popularity in the crypto world, Podrx, a former McKinsey consultant, said she believed it could be a powerful tool for wealth management.

In early , she launched Eve Wealth, a decentralized autonomous organization that offers peer education for women on DeFi. But Eve Wealth s members, she soon realized, weren t just interested in opening crypto wallets and buying NFTs. They wanted to back Web projects and startups, especially those led by women.

So Eve Wealth has since launched an initiative to bring more women onto the roster of investors in Web companies. Podrx s goal is to compile a list of at least female investors.

On that list is Jules Miller, a partner at Mindset Ventures. Miller focuses on investments in enterprise tech and the future of work, which led her to explore DAOs. She s now a member of several, including Eve Wealth.

With Web, it s very participatory, Miller told Insider. You can t just read about it. You have to be part of the community.

Plunking down money in unfamiliar areas can be especially intimidating for female investors, she said, who often have less latitude to make mistakes and thus want to feel very knowledgeable about the deals they re making. But for blockchain and crypto-focused investments, you have to take a leap of faith, she said.

Being open to crypto investments as a female investor can end up attracting deal flow, since there are still relatively few women in the space, Ali Rosenthal, the founder and managing partner of Leadout Capital, said.

Rosenthal invested in BlockSpaces, which makes tools to integrate software applications with blockchain technology, after the company s cofounder and CEO, Rosa Shores, reached out to her. The VC was impressed with Shores and recognized that the startup might be considered an underdog, given the male-dominated nature of BlockSpaces market and the company s location away from a major crypto-startup hub.

We got to engage because this founder came to us, and she wanted an investor who wants to back resilient, nonobvious founders, Rosenthal told Insider. You are nonobvious as a woman as a blockchain founder, and in Florida — in Tampa, not even Miami.

Since then, Rosenthal has formed a working group with other women in venture capital to source and share Web deals.

One thing helping female venture capitalists gain a foothold in Web deals is that funding rounds for such startups tend to have many participating investors. Often, they re structured as party rounds, in which investors take a smaller percentage of equity than usual and there may not be a designated lead investor.

Maya Bakhai, the founder of Spice Capital, told Insider she d gotten into several Web deals through referrals from other female investors. She said she found that Web founders and investors were often more transparent about fundraising than their Web counterparts, which makes it easier to hear about investment opportunities.

The people who made me feel comfortable and brought me into crypto were women, Bakhai said. Everyone is helping each other out.

Party rounds can be especially beneficial for small, emerging funds such as hers, she added, because they re often more amenable to deals in which they may have a small equity allocation.

The smaller check sizes also allow investors who may not be crypto-focused to test out deals in the space, Miller said.

Deena Shakir, a partner at Lux Capital, is a founding member of BFF, a DAO for educating women and nonbinary people about Web.

Even as more female investors become involved in Web, there s a lingering perception that startups and projects in the space primarily serve a tiny, affluent niche.

For some critics, the launch of BFF, a decentralized autonomous organization designed to introduce more women and nonbinary people to crypto, served as a prime example of that notion. While the DAO includes a long list of female investors, including Rebecca Kaden, Kirsten Green, and Aileen Lee, its most prominent members are celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Mila Kunis.

The star-studded roster is purposeful, Deena Shakir, a partner at Lux Capital and one of BFF s founding members, told Insider: It s meant to grab the attention of those who otherwise might not give crypto a passing glance.

Behind the scenes, Shakir said, BFF s members are thinking deeply about how to engage a diverse group of participants in the next wave of Web startups and projects. She told Insider she and her female peers in venture capital were looking to join diverse communities where those emerging trends would be first apparent.

I do love the idea of diversity and inclusion, and it s something that s been strategically focused on by these women, Shakir said.

In a similar vein, Bakhai has gotten involved with DAOs focused on communities less represented at the forefront of crypto, such as DosaDAO, which is targeted toward participants of South Asian descent.

For Web to continue to expand its reach across these disparate groups, it s critical for women to be engaged both as founders and investors, said Alison Davis, the managing partner of Blockchain Coinvestors, a fund of funds focused on blockchain and crypto investments. She pointed to women s outsize role as social influencers and decision-makers on consumer spending.

I don t think it can stay male-dominated as it becomes more of a global phenomenon, Davis said.