The statistics, from a recent Deloitte report FinTech 50, are alarming in terms of equality to say the least. Especially when you consider that of the 30 per cent of females working in fintech, only 17 per cent have reached senior positions in the industry as of 2023.
But the figures aren’t just poor in terms of female employee representation; they’re not good for female entrepreneurs either. Not when you consider that only 2.3 per cent of venture capital funding went to female-led start-ups in 2020. In this article we’re going to look in closer detail at why Fintech, a comparatively modern industry, has one of the worst ratios of gender-biased funding.
Fintech not viewed as a ‘female career’
The reason there’s so few women in Fintech is primarily down to the fact they don’t know enough about it. That’s the belief of analysts in the sector, and it’s backed up by young graduates. Recent research showed 81 per cent of female students said they didn’t know enough about the sector to consider it as a career. Or, they simply didn’t fancy it.
However this is only one piece of the puzzle. After all, there are other high profile instances of large gender divides in industries that are considerably more familiar to every school child and would-be university graduate – the STEM fields. For those unfamiliar, this refers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Survey results from a PNAS study in the early twenty-twenties revealed that STEM disciplines still have some of the very lowest gender ratios, with Engineering at 18% and Physics & Maths at only 15%. This is despite the fact that these are core subjects for every boy and girl in every secondary education curriculum the country over.
Considering Fintech is one of the fastest growing industries and one which is gaining more and more prominence as the world continues to embrace technology and IT initiatives, it’s crucial that women are a bigger part of the Fintech conversation too.
To this end, those who are female and already working in the field are calling out for more Fintech education and exposure in secondary schools. In addition, they want female fintech leaders to discuss their experiences and encourage young women to join the fold.
“If women of all ages are not educated on the possibilities of a career in payments, finance or fintech, enrolment rates and the long line of consequential gender imbalances will only continue,” said Anjulie Patel, VP of Partnerships at Nucleus365. “To counter this dynamic our sector needs to significantly ramp up the volume and quality of accessible initiatives for women.”
She is echoed in her stance by Sulungeka Faltein, 35. She is the software engineer team lead at digital credit provider Wonga South Africa and manages a staff of three. Her job involves engineering, coding and design. Her team maintain the company’s online systems and create new features to boost customer experience.
Image: Sulungeka Faltein in her position at Wonga
A Communication and Information Systems major from the University of the Western Cape, she went on to complete a post graduate in software development. She then interned as a programmer in software development at a retail group.
She choose to go into the fintech sector because she believed it was the most innovative at the time. That meant she would have access to the latest technologies.
Faltein admits that there was definitely a ‘boys club’ in the industry when she started. But by proving she was just as capable and making sure she had the opportunity to showcase her ability at every opportunity, she managed to get through that barrier.
She adds: “My experience [at Wonga Online] sometimes feels surreal, as everyone is willing to offer support and provide training and skills development.
“From the onset, I was pulled into discussions around planning and was always asked for my opinion. I was thrilled when the Head of Engineering assigned me to the team leader role. He encouraged me and had faith in my abilities.”
No glass ceiling to break
And, as if that wasn’t already enough to encourage the sisterhood, she adds:
“There is far more representation in the tech industry by women than when I first started working in this space, and it is encouraging that women are being assigned to leadership and principal roles.”
Do not get discouraged by the nay-sayers. Be confident in your abilities and your role, and believe in your capabilities. There is no glass ceiling.”
DISCLAIMER: This article is a partnered post and does not substitute for professional advice or help. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility.