Women grossly underrepresented in global fintech

Women grossly underrepresented in global fintech

Women are not being represented in senior business and tech roles at global fintech companies, according to the first report by the Fintech Diversity Radar.

The Diversity for growth report revealed that of the 1,032 best-funded fintechs across the world, only 16 were founded solely by women and attracted only 1% of venture capital funding was invested in them.

Other startling findings include that women, who make up roughly half the world population, are only at CEO level at 6% of fintechs and even less (4%) are in the key technology roles of chief information officer (CIO) and chief technology officer (CTO).

“Whether as company founders, CEOs, senior executives or on the board of directors, women are not seen and rarely heard,” said the report’s executive summary.

The study found that when women are present they tend to be in HR and marketing roles, with few in senior strategic, business development and technology roles. “The number in senior technology positions is vanishingly small,” it stated.

Meanwhile, the report said white men control 93% of venture capital investments and warned that fintech appears to be repeating the behaviour of traditional finance, which would be a missed opportunity.

But there were positives, with the percentage of companies with at least one woman founder slowly increasing year on year. The report said in 2010 under 6% of leading fintechs had women in the founding team, but this was 20% in 2019 and 30% in 2020.

Recent announcements by Barclays and Morgan Stanley that they are bringing fintech hubs to the UK, with a focus on diversity, have raised hopes that the tide is changing, but the obstacles to change run deep.

Sylvia Carrasco, CEO at gold trading fintech platform Goldex, recently told Computer Weekly that women still have more barriers than men when they set up their own companies, and not just in the fintech sector. 

“I always say that it is too late for us to try to attract women into finance when they leave school or universities. The top of the pyramid at that point is too thin so we must make the bottom larger. How? Equality of opportunities must start being imprinted in childhood, at schools and by families,” she said.

“It’s only then that more girls will choose financial studies which will then transpire into them joining financial corporations and fintechs as a professional career. However, we also have to support the ones who have decided to follow that route later on in their journeys.”

Maria Scott, founder of fintech Tania, said there was a lot of work to do to level things up, but awareness of the issue is increasing.

“The key thing now is not to lose the momentum and to make sure it translates into real impact for female founders,” she added. “We need to keep working on this and keep attacking it on several fronts – role models, support structures of this type, continue to promote awareness and create new opportunities.”

Read more about women in fintech US bank expands its diversity-focused fintech accelerator programme to Europe with initial £1m investment. Action is needed if fintechs set up by women are to receive the same level of venture capital backing as those set up by men. Bank’s female-only hackathon comes up with new ideas for financial services aimed at improving women’s financial well-being. Positive discrimination needed to remedy shocking under-investment in fintechs founded by women.

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