Could non-traditional industries be expanding in the Caribbean?

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — The gaming industry isn’t what comes to mind for many when thinking of Puerto Rico, but Shirley McPhaul, technology consultant at Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, wants that to change, especially among women.

Speaking on a 2021 Women Economic Forum (WEF) panel, McPhaul said her organization aims to support the interactive media industry, including video games, virtual reality and augmented reality.

“As part of the companies I invest in, as part of my crypto portfolio, there are a lot of gaming companies or platforms that focus on gaming…and video games are right now a more valuable industry than music and film combined, and this is only going to get bigger,” she said.

Video games have disrupted even sports with e-sports and streaming, and this is only going to get bigger through blockchain technology. What I would like to see, definitely, are more women in both the gaming industry and crypto.”

McPhaul and fellow panelists Davinia Bain, executive director of The Bahamas’ Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre, and Shila Nieves Burney, general partner at Zane Venture Fund, discussed a mutual goal of seeing more women working in fields they historically have not been a part of.

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    Nieves Burney noted that while women are typically associated with “pink-collar jobs” like healthcare, they have been increasingly working in fields like fintech, supply chain logistics, retail tech and even cybersecurity.

    “We are coming up in spaces that traditionally were for men,” she said. “We’re finding that we have the ability to solve a problem and we’re coming up in industries that people don’t expect us to be in.”

    For her part, Bain urged, “Don’t let anybody squeeze you out of an industry because of your gender.”

    She encouraged women to “look at some of the industries that we haven’t really had a foothold in”, adding that she has noticed more women taking executive roles in finance.

    “So, for example, when you look at the multiplier effects in the finance industry, you find people feel like there’s a lot higher risk environment for investing, and before time there were very few women leaders in that space,” she said.

    “[But now] there are a number of women, in particular in The Bahamas, in the financial space beginning to take the lead. Now, ownership is a little different from leading, and so I think we’re making strides in that space.”

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