The Fintech Glass Ceiling – Why are we Still Here?
A quick run through of the founders of companies selected for the FinTech 50 reveals 118 men, and just six women. That’s just over 5%. The figures around fintech’s gender imbalance are frankly staggering! Fintech in short has a gender diversity problem. There are three explicit pillars of this embarrassing fact;
1. The commonly reported problem that not enough women currently work in fintech companies.
2. There’s the related problem – name a female fintech founder? I can name two…try to name more!
3. Then to add insult to injury; most fintech users are predominantly men.
It seems like a club, run by men, built by men, for men.
Like Jeremy Clarkson-era Top Gear, but with hopefully better haircuts.
So, why are we here? And more importantly, how do we fix this?
The workforce imbalance issue is key. It could be argued it is part of a societal issue around STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and lack of female engagement in these areas. Combing the ‘fin’ (mathematics) with the ‘tech’; and you can see the underlying issue.
A study last year revealed that less than 30% of the UK’s fintech workforce was female! This is shocking for a society that is led by women (Queen and Prime Minister respectively), and where female innovation, leadership and creativity are celebrated as a central pillar of British culture. When you take those numbers further up the pipeline the numbers get worse; only 17% of senior fintech roles are women.
For whatever reason when I think of fintech leaders (with the odd very notable exception), I think of the Jacks, the Toms and the Nikolays. Not the Jills, the Tams and the Natashas.
The fintech user base
I have talked about the general issue at an educational and youth level; however I think this also carries through to a problem not often mentioned; the gender inequality when you look at fintech’s user base.
There is very limited data on this, but it follows through that an industry dominated by men, is going to build products with a male centric UX. For me this is a missed opportunity – to give another example of a very different mobile first industry – Bumble and happn changed the dating game by putting the power of the female decision maker first – perhaps fintech needs to?
We need to build products that put the female first, and in an era of open banking, this more than ever, is surely key to the success of fintech.
Are we there yet?
Nope. A long way off.
Fintechs (and banks in general) though, have shown in the most Darwinian way that they must adapt to survive; and they need the female purse. If this can be done successfully we will see a pretty exciting paradigm shift taking place. The glass ceiling is still very much there, but when I speak to leaders in the industry I can see a HUGE desire for this to be broken.