This October at The Fintech Times is all about shining a spotlight on the incredible women working in the fintech industry, sharing their greatest achievements, their biggest challenges and how they can make a difference fostering women’s careers.
Though progress has been made to reduce the gender gap in fintech, the industry still has far to go until it hits true representation and champions full equality.
To help highlight the influential and significant contributions of women to the industry, we asked influential fintech leaders (who just so happen to be women) to share their thoughts on how the gender diversity in the industry has evolved since they first started their careers.
A stark difference
Ava Kelly, chief product officer at payments processing company Thredd, said:
“It’s constantly changing, as I’m sure everyone agrees. The financial services industry twenty-five years ago when I was starting out, is starkly different to what it looks like today, which is terrific. I believe that is driven by the constant drum of innovation that is driving new ways to deliver payments, banking, and money movement. There is also a much more diverse ecosystem of players interacting on a global scale. These shifts have created a whole new set of roles and ways of working for men and women. I certainly see women across a much more diverse set of roles and at more senior levels than in the past whether that is as an engineer, managing client onboarding teams, leading sales or product organisations, heading up corporate partnerships or being the founder and building their vision from the ground up. The list goes on and on.
“I know many female leaders in payments that are real change-makers, trailblazing the way for the female
leaders of tomorrow. Is there room to grow? Absolutely. I don’t know how many female chief product officers there are in tech and financial services, but I imagine the percentage is on the low side. I love my role as chief product officer at Thredd. I have the opportunity to work with both the front and back of the house to bring solutions to market. It is a great part of the business to be in. I would definitely encourage anyone to pursue this type of role.”
Louise Lunn, vice president, global analytics delivery, at analytics company FICO, said:
“The fintech industry has grown significantly over the past few years, leveraging advancements in technology, and changing consumer preferences. I joined the industry over 25 years ago as a graduate.
“The industry growth has opened various opportunities for professionals interested in pursuing a career in fintech. Like many other sectors, the industry has faced challenges related to diversity and inclusion.
“However, there has been a positive shift in recent years with more awareness and efforts to promote diversity in the sector. Many fintech companies now recognise the importance of having diverse teams that reflect the demographics of their users and customers. This increased focus on diversity and inclusion has led to initiatives and programs aimed at attracting and retaining diverse talent in fintech.
“To navigate a career in fintech, it’s essential to be proactive in seeking out companies that prioritise these values and leverage networks and resources that support diverse professionals in the field.”
A culture of inclusivity
Sylvia To, manager of crypto exchange, Bullish, said:
“When I initially embarked on my career in this industry, the environment was markedly different. The conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion was not as pronounced or prioritised as it is today, and often I would find myself among a limited number of women in professional spaces. A tangible metric to observe this shift over time is the gender composition of industry panels. Compared to earlier years, we are now witnessing a notable increase in the representation of women on such panels, which is a meaningful stride towards fostering a culture of inclusivity.
“Just recently, I had the opportunity to participate on a panel where the gender distribution was evenly balanced. This was a significant moment not only for me but also for my fellow panellists, as it underscored the industry’s evolving commitment to ensuring diverse voices are heard and valued.
“I do believe over time organisations have started to prioritise diversity and inclusion, implementing policies and initiatives to ensure a more equitable workplace. There’s an increasing recognition of the value diverse teams bring to innovation and problem solving.
“In my view, starting a career in fintech may be somewhat easier now than when I first started. There are more resources available, from mentorship programs to networking groups specifically for women and underrepresented groups in fintech. Additionally, there’s a growing awareness of the importance of diversity in the industry, which open more doors and opportunities.”
Path to success
Andrea Berry, head of business development in Theta Labs, one of web3 largest decentralized video streaming projects, said:
“Looking back at the start of my career, it’s interesting to see how much I normalised the challenges I faced as a woman simply because I didn’t have any other working experience. I worked in the NBA, explicitly interviewing in the locker rooms for the first four years of my career. I became very resilient to the challenges women face as professionals. I didn’t realise it then, but in the last several years, it has become apparent, and I try to focus that resilience on the mentorship of younger women in my network. If I can share what I learned, what I experienced, and the strategy for navigating through these challenges, I know that it will not only help those people but my time and effort will be an example for them to follow as they grow in their careers. Many challenges lose power and control when people can come together and learn from each other.
“What I appreciate about the web3 space is its commitment to inclusivity. Unlike traditional technology or finance industries, where established institutions often define the path to success, web3 embraces a decentralized ethos that offers opportunities regardless of background and identity. This aspect of web3 technology is promising. It welcomes individuals from diverse backgrounds and actively encourages their participation.”
Suki Gao is co-founder and China GM of 40Seas, a fintech platform that digitises and simplifies cross-border trade financing for SMEs, said:
“Over the past decade, the international cross-border financial industry has undergone significant changes. From the perspective of professionals in the field, in the past, most people primarily had backgrounds in finance and accounting. However, today, the industry has become more inclusive and values the diverse experiences of practitioners in various other domains, such as e-commerce, traditional trade, gaming, and more.
“For me personally, I have noticed that this industry presents greater challenges compared to when I first entered it. This is because customer expectations for fintech services continue to evolve in terms of diversity and practicality. Additionally, competition from peers in the industry is intensifying. Therefore, the key to staying relevant is to continuously learn and innovate within the market to avoid obsolescence.”