This Sunday will mark the 109th International Women’s Day, an annual celebration of gender equality across the board, and an important discussion of the work to be done in achieving parity. As a woman working with clients in fintech, I thought I would take this opportunity to share my own thoughts and reflections on the specific challenges and successes in the sector.
Despite the huge progress we have seen since the very first International Women’s Day 109 years ago, the truth is that a fair amount of underlying, residual bias persists. For the finance sector – historically one of the most male-dominated of them all – it is particularly challenging to shift gender stereotypes.
Change is on its way, however. Fintech is the UK’s fastest growing sector and this growth has engendered discussions around the kind of talent we need to feed the industry, in order to remain competitive. We are brilliantly represented globally by Innovate Finance, led by CEO Charlotte Crosswell, who has done a fantastic job with her team to champion women in fintech.
We are now at a place where we recognise that the technology industry as a whole needs a good roster of female talent if we are to remain competitive in a digital world. I am encouraged to see this in the number of discussions, panels, and debates that call on young women to apply for jobs in tech.
From my own experience representing some of the most exciting fintech companies that are out there, I am proud to see that many of my clients have women in senior positions. More than this, many of those women are often in tech roles. R3, the global blockchain firm, has Dr. Katelyn Baker as its Principal Software Engineer. Mosaic Smart Data calls Diane Castelino its Data Science and Research Lead. LiquidityEdge has Nichola Hunter at its helm. These examples are testament to fintech’s status as a growing sector that is fostering female talent.
On a personal level, I am lucky enough to work for a company that prides itself on gender equality and actively encourages a pipeline of female talent. Chatsworth Communications has a 50:50 gender balance and I am convinced this is absolutely crucial in creating our dynamic, talented workforce.
However, the conversation is far from over. The fact that International Women’s Day is still taking place is a testament to that. Fintech is no exception here. Across the industry, women make up just 29 per cent of the employee base and the inequality is even starker at a leadership level, with men holding 83 per cent of executive roles. Clearly, this needs to change.
The number of UK fintech firms is due to double by 2030, with thousands of new jobs set to be created across design, developing and marketing. If fintech represents the future, we need to make sure that future is equal.
Part of the problem remains the challenge of getting female students into the subjects that feed fintech. But it is changing. More female students are recognising that coding, advanced maths and computer engineering are pathways that are open to them. Today, there are dozens of organisations set up to encourage women to learn how to code. Some of our clients run these, too. There are more opportunities and networks at women’s disposal than ever.
I can’t think of a better way to close than to use a quote from Sheryl Sandberg from her book ‘Lean in’: ‘“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
Until we get to that point, we need to keep talking.
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