Paving the way for the next generation of women in Financial Technology

Paving the way for the next generation of women in Financial Technology

One of the most frustrating aspects of the gender gap in any industry is that nobody wants it to be there. The Fintech space is no different. This is a cutting-edge sector with a continual need for growth, and I can honestly say that at no point have I ever met anyone who in any way supports a gender gap. Yet, it persists, and women are still underrepresented. So, what can be done to encourage more women into the industry and make sure that the opportunity to succeed is open to everyone.

Taking the opportunity

There is no doubt that fintech is an attractive career path. The potential to carve out a successful career is not only there, but there are few sectors that come close to offering the same benefits, salaries, or progression opportunities. In addition, it is an industry with a skills gap, which means the demand for talented applicants is very high. Despite all this, there is a persistent gender gap, and only around 30% of jobs in the industry are held by women. More shocking is that just 7% of fintech start-ups have a woman at the helm. No matter how attractive the opportunity may be, women continue to be underrepresented in fintech.

It is probably worth contextualising things a little and acknowledging that this is not an issue that is exclusive to the financial technology sector. Tech industries, in general, do seem to have a gender bias problem. Where fintech may be suffering a double whammy of problems is that women are also underrepresented in the financial world. With only 15% of FDs in FTSE100 companies being women, it seems that finance also has a similar issue to deal with.  

The question of encouraging the next generation of women into fintech

How to go about changing the trend and inspiring a new cohort of women to take up the challenge of working in financial technology is the big question. Working with some great companies within fintech has given us an insight into how many of them are working to make change happen.

Developing from school

Outreach into the education system will really help deal with the problem of encouraging early interest. Schools, colleges, and universities all have opportunities for businesses to engage with the learners. If the message about how attractive the fintech world is can be spread early, it will help seed later entry into the industry. Similarly, working towards a focus on encouraging young women to apply for training and apprentice vacancies will also help.

Eradicating the old ways

It seems odd to be talking about entrenched attitudes in such a vibrant and progressive sector, but they do persist. Businesses that have taken the initiative and nurtured inclusiveness by focusing on methods of changing these attitudes, such as training, anonymised applications, unconscious bias awareness and similar methods, have seen their efforts pay dividends.

Gender aware job listings

Repeated research has shown that women are less likely to apply for a job if the wording does not relate to them. Going back to basics and re-addressing the language used in job advertisements and specifications with an eye to eradicating masculinity and unconscious gender bias may well help encourage more women to take the initial step and apply.

Creating a better offer

Gender bias is a criticism often levelled at the benefits and conditions of employment. Having to balance the needs of children and work, for example, is still one of the supporting walls of the glass ceiling. Many traditional contracts may well offer the same benefits and conditions to all employees, but they sometimes do not fully account for the needs of all the workforce. Enhanced flexibility in working from home, childcare facilities, equal maternity leave for both parents and similar initiatives can help create a more equitable work-life balance for women.

Role models and mentoring

Social proof, as any marketing person will tell you, is one of the most persuasive methods of encouraging action. Learning about successful women in the fintech world will naturally lead to more women being attracted to roles in the industry. A promotional tactic of focusing on women leaders and technology specialists on podcasts, in videos, featuring on social media content and other methods of promotion, for example, will help raise the profile of women in the industry. Mentoring by successful women in fintech is another developmental and aspirational model that can be used as an encouragement and support mechanism.

Generation Z is an opportunity for fintech

The generation currently entering the workplace is a golden opportunity to get rid of the gender bias once and for all. They are more aware and inclusive than any generation before them, and they are digitally native by upbringing. If the industry opens the door for them to develop and grow, they surely will.

There is not going to be an easy resolution to this problem. There are too many balls in play to be able to close the gap with a single solution. Cultural pressures, unconscious bias, the remains of male-centric attitudes in the workplace, and unfortunately, harassment and unfair treatment, along with hundreds of other factors, have combined over decades to create this issue, but that does not make it acceptable. While a great deal of work is being done and huge strides are being taken towards a more equitable and inclusive workplace for all employees, reaching out to the next generation of women is clearly going to be instrumental in the closing of the gender gap.

Change is always slow to happen with entrenched problems, but a focus on the next generation may well be fruitful and create a workplace where gender plays no part in advancement or career opportunities.

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