Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling in Fintech
While 30% of the fintech workforce are female, only 17% of senior fintech roles are women.
To close the gender gap in fintech, we must first understand the root causes of why this disparity exists.
I got my first finance job when I was 18, working in the City of London. At the time, I was one of the only women and often felt outnumbered and outgunned by my male colleagues. Sadly, I remember several occasions where I was told I “wasn’t cut out for the finance industry” or “wouldn’t be able to handle it”.
Despite the challenges, I loved my job and was determined to succeed. After a couple of years of hard work, I was promoted to a more senior position within the company. Now, I run a successful fintech consultancy and employ a diverse team across the world.
Here’s my advice for women looking to break through the glass ceiling in fintech:
The Evolution of the Glass Ceiling
The phrase ‘glass ceiling’ was first used by Marilyn Loden in 1978. It described the invisible barrier to success many women faced in business. Now, the term is used more broadly to describe any artificial barrier based on an individual’s sex, race, or other immutable characteristics that limits their advancement in the workplace.
The glass ceiling exists because of both implicit and explicit bias. Implicit bias is when someone subconsciously prefers one thing over another. For example, you may have a preference for a certain type of music without realising it. Explicit bias is when someone consciously prefers one thing over another. For example, you may consciously prefer a certain type of music because you think it’s better than other types of music.
Both implicit and explicit bias can lead to discrimination in the workplace. When women are not given the same opportunities as their male and white counterparts, it creates a glass ceiling that’s difficult to break.
Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Despite the challenges, there are many things women can do to break through the glass ceiling in fintech.
Strengthen Your Network
One of the best things you can do is to build a strong network of mentors, sponsors, and colleagues. A mentor is someone who can provide guidance and advice. A sponsor is someone who can advocate for your career advancement. And colleagues are people you can rely on for support and collaboration.
When you have a strong network, you have people you can turn to when you need advice or help. You also have people who can vouch for your skills and abilities.
Some ways that I’ve built my network include:
- Attending conferences and meetups: when I started my career in finance, I attended as many conferences and meetups as possible. This was a great way to meet people in my field and learn about new opportunities. My role was very much sales and business development focused, so it also helped me to make new contacts and expand my network.
- Reaching out to people I admire on social media: With a lack of women in fintech leadership positions, it can be difficult to find mentors. I’ve overcome this challenge by reaching out to people I admire on social media. This has allowed me to connect with some amazing women willing to share their advice and experiences with me.
Advocate for Yourself and Others
To progress in your career, it’s important to advocate for yourself. This means knowing your worth and asking for what you deserve. It also means speaking up when you see someone being treated unfairly.
When you advocate for yourself, you’re more likely to get the opportunities and recognition you deserve. And when you advocate for others, you help create a more inclusive environment for everyone. For example, when you see a colleague being passed over for a promotion, speak up and ask why they weren’t considered. Or, if you notice that your team is mostly made up of people from one demographic, reach out to your HR department and suggest they diversify the team.
Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Another important thing you can do is to praise and celebrate your accomplishments. This is something that women often don’t do enough of. We tend to downplay our achievements and brush off compliments.
But it’s important to pat yourself on the back when you’ve done a good job. It not only makes you feel good, but it also shows other people that you’re confident in your abilities. This is important for both your personal and professional development.
Some ways that I’ve celebrated my accomplishments include:
- Writing about them on social media: When I accomplish something at work, I like to write about it on social media. This is a great way to share your achievements with your network and also serves as motivation for other women.
- Treating myself to a nice dinner or something I’ve been wanting: One of my favourite things after a big accomplishment is to treat myself to a nice dinner or something I’ve been wanting. This could be anything from a new piece of jewellery to a plane ticket somewhere beautiful. Whatever it is, it’s a great way to reward yourself for all your hard work.
Invest in Yourself
Do you want to learn new skills or knowledge? Are you looking to advance your career? Whatever your goals are, it’s important to invest in yourself. This means taking the time and effort to improve your skill set.
There are several ways you can do this, such as:
- Taking an online course: Many great online courses are available on various topics. If you’re interested in learning something, chances are there’s a course for it. This is a great way to learn at your own pace and fit it into your busy schedule.
- Attending a conference: Another great way to learn is by attending conferences. This is an opportunity to hear from experts in your field and network with other professionals.
- Reading books and articles: Another way to invest in yourself is by reading books and articles on topics that interest you. I usually encourage my team to spend at least an hour reading and learning to help them develop themselves each week. This helps them stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments. I’m also a big fan of personal development and business books. Some of my favourites are, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Breaking the glass ceiling can be challenging, particularly if you’re a woman in a male-dominated field. But it’s important to remember that you have the power to create change. You can advocate for yourself and others, praise and celebrate your accomplishments, and invest in yourself.
And remember, even if you don’t reach the very top, you’ll be making progress for all women along the way. Every step you take is one step closer to helping women shatter that glass ceiling.
So let’s all do our part in helping to create change!