Fintech’s Potential: Breaking Glass Ceilings and Empowering Women for Innovation

Explore the transformative power of women in Fintech, breaking barriers and driving innovation. Discover how gender diversity is reshaping the industry's future.
FTB News DeskMarch 7, 202414 min

There are only 30% of women in fintech, and less than 5% of them are CEOs. Their input and decision-making in the industry are important but still not heard enough, which is why the fintech industry lacks progress. It’s mostly because of the gender imbalance in the industry. We need to bridge this gap between men and women in FinTech to improve the product development process that addresses users well and make the industry more diverse for better results.

CONTEMPORANEOUS STATISTICS AND SYSTEM FLAWS

In the fintech world, the gender gap is striking with only about 20% holding executive positions. Despite the industry’s projected 20% growth to $305 billion by 2025, the gender gap is expected to widen further.

Likewise, salaries are not the only front in the battle for gender equality.

Financial inclusion matters to everyone because it is the main tool to help people facilitate easier access to finance. Consequently, the absence of women on the board dominates the quality and diversity of the products made by the industry that negatively impacts it from the bottom to the top.

The grounds for inequality go much further than gender discrimination, biases, statistics, organizational faults, and the absence of required qualifications, and payroll. As one of the most consultative sectors, fintech as a domain often requires women to execute individual dedication and avoid personal activities at the workplace, which makes it appear less promising to keep a social life alongside work.

However, the market generally distinguishes itself in its conservatism as much as it requires resourcefulness and innovativeness with creative solutions reciprocated by bold and decisive actions. The already existing system across many regions, which is meant to provide women with cases where they can easily tap into the industry and excel while having enough funds and financing for loans because currently women have minimal access to venture capital funding. All these factors, unfortunately work against and opposite to the favor of women making it difficult for them to enter this industry in an inclusive format.

The issue also pinpoints the psychological barriers that many women often neglect and/or don’t deal with appropriately at the right time. Feminist academics Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, in their book “Women Don’t Ask”, delved into the issue of negotiation and the gender split, illustrating how women are subject to psychological barriers which impede their capacity to negotiate effectively. The authors stress that females do not assert themselves or share information they have because they perceive it necessary to get more trained before taking a step. This hesitancy is attributed to a perception that they must fully understand a situation before making decisions, which can lead to them feeling overwhelmed by the progress and presence of men in certain industries

THE GENDER GAP IMPACT

Failure to embrace gender diversity in businesses leads to the inefficient utilization of the skills and capabilities of the organization and thus causes poor business performance. Numerous studies indicate that highly diverse teams are more creative, informative, and able to achieve tasks more effectively. Also, a McKinsey study in January 2014 revealed a 15% financial return increment in companies with higher gender diversity. While we are conversing on the topic of the role of women executives and their influence on financial performance, a Credit Suisse study revealed that companies with more female leaders generated 27% higher returns on equity, while the ratio of dividend payouts is approximately half. In 2015, an in-depth research was conducted on the budget viability of women-owned organizations versus that of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) over a period of 12 years. Certainly, the financial success of such companies with female leaders is 226% higher than that of S&P.

Beyond the implications described above, gender diversity brings a diversity of skills adequate for comparative advantage, encourages different ideas to be exchanged, ultimately leading to efficiency in business. In doing so, it also secures the financial industry from the practice of democratization by making provisions for the different stakeholders, such as customers, by including the voices of a wider audience, improving product development, the speed of growth, and competition in the sector. Opening up the fields for women not only adds top-class performance to the market but also increases productivity because of additional workers and the creation of better social representations that therefore lead to creating lasting products and services for end-users to make a purchase decision on them.

Promoting One Woman to a C-Suite Position Could Lead to a Three-Fold Increase in Women in the Firm’s Senior Leadership

“Breaking the glass ceiling” is mostly associated with women’s activity in leadership and participation, especially in fintech. Although some glass ceilings have been broken down over the last decade, the number of women in power roles remains very limited. The three-pronged problem of gender diversity in fintech—under-representation of female founders, employees, and users—only highlights the need for more comprehensive and strategic solutions.

Only ¼ of leadership roles are held by women, even though they make up ⅓ of the workforce in the 20 technology companies globally. Additionally, women account for more than 13% of leadership positions as founders and executive board members in fintech firms, which is lower than their presence in traditional banking and tech companies.

The presence of women in fintech makes it possible for these products to be developed in a way that reflects women’s requirements. However, we stand to lose some of the most revolutionary concepts and solutions with such low representation of women in fintech. For instance, let’s consider the case of Vrinda Gupta, who is the founder of Sequin Financial, a fintech company aimed at improving women’s credit ratings. A well-known credit card firm rejected her idea about targeting its product towards female customers before she established this successful organization. Nevertheless, through her persistence, she was able to create her own company and is now listed among those “Women in Fintech to Watch-Out for in 2023.”

Gender bias predominantly arises when it comes to accessing finance by female-founded fintech startups over male-founded ones due to gender discrimination, lack of equal opportunity, or exploitation. Even though this presents the same business ideas, investors tend to prefer those presented by male entrepreneurs. Many real-life scenarios have highlighted the issue of investor panels downplaying women as compared to men, as they mainly question male entrepreneurs about potential gains and ROI, while female entrepreneurs are questioned about the risks and losses to be incurred in their businesses. Furthermore, during investor meetings, female founders are nudged to tag along with their male teammates or business partners to support their presentation and agree with their opinions to make a lasting impact on the investors for a surefire way to closure.

To change gender roles and break down barriers for females in the STEM fields, there is a need for an all-inclusive approach that involves parents, tutors, mentors, business people, and investors. It starts with parents, schools, and communities that motivate girls by encouraging their efforts to make a transition into STEM and further into their relevant careers. This effort also requires government programs and employers’ participation in doing away with obstacles and creating spaces where women can flourish, advance, and lead in sectors that are usually male-dominated.

Lastly, it needs financiers who create a conducive business environment and equal opportunity platform for women and willingly invest in female entrepreneurs, acknowledging their innovativeness, enthusiasm, and aptitude that they bring to the table.

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FTB News Desk

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