SWIFT Innotribe released a white paper entitled “Power Women in FinTech Index: Bridging the Gender Gap” at the Digital Finance Conference 2015 in Vancouver on June 3.
The paper is the first in a series planned by Innotribe, and presents a global index of 400 “powerful and impactful” women who “are beating the odds and building careers of their dreams” to occupy top positions in FinTech companies. Co-author Christine Duhaime, a financial regulatory lawyer and the executive director and co-founder of the Digital Finance Institute, writes:
“A growing body of research suggests that organizations founded by women or that take leadership roles by empowering women in FinTech are more innovative and return better financial results.”
The authors state that the FinTech environment is promising for women because it offers “transformative powers” for success. It is “considered to be a disruptive force to the banking status quo,” as well as an “‘equalizing’ medium,” — for instance, between the banked and the unbanked.
Gender diversity, however, remains “hindered,” say the two authors, “by the continued stagnation of women in leadership positions and the continued depletion of female technology talent.” For one example, in 2014, there were only 51 female CEOs in Fortune 1000 companies.
“One of the clear results from women we interviewed for the paper,” Duhaime says, “is that we need to fix the industry for inclusiveness, and we need to fix it fast.” Even where women have founded tech companies and assumed top positions in the tech world, their perspectives on women in FinTech are “often missing,” say the authors. Their goal for the report was to “focus on the positive” — the voices of women who have succeeded.
The paper includes interviews with seven women, two of whom work in the Bitcoin space for BitPesa. When asked about the “biggest issue facing women in the workplace,” CFO Amy Ludlum said:
“Lack of diversity within women in leadership. A handful of women occupy very powerful positions, and I’m proud that they do, however those women don’t necessarily represent me. Men have hundreds of thousands of professionally successful men to look up to. [...] ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’”
Min-Si Wang, manager for M&A advisory activities, said “curiosity” is the key characteristic she attributes to her success in the FinTech industry, because it drivers her “to learn about new technology like Bitcoin.”
The authors initially wanted to highlight 100 of the most influential women globally. When they crowdsourced the list, however, they received 300 nominations. They ultimately finalized the list at 435, of which they chose to include 400 whose experiences would provide mentorship and role modeling to women who want to achieve similar successes.
The list contains several women from blockchain tech-related companies. Besides the two already mentioned, it includes:
- Catherine Nicholson, Founder of BlockCypher
- Charlene Chen, COO at BitPesa
- Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO at BitPesa
- Hannah Kim, Co-Founder and CEO at Volabit
- Oula Doudin, Founder of BitOasis
The paper covers existing research that highlights the gender imbalance in FinTech, and offers recommendations for improvement. Innotribe’s next paper in their series, to be published later this month, will cover the voices of Millennials in FinTech.