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Women in finance and fintech: Bridging the gender gap

Finder’s Finance and Fintech interview series celebrates female leaders and their contribution to an ever-evolving finance sector.

Financial technology — more commonly called fintech — is a forward-looking and disruptive force in the financial services industry. However, like many business sectors, it’s struggling to disrupt one well-trod norm: gender diversity.

Women make up just 37% of fintech employees, according to the LendIt Fintech 2018 Women in Fintech survey. And the farther you climb up the corporate ladder, the fewer women you’ll see.

A 2021 diversity growth report from Findexable further found that women account for only 19% of executives in fintech companies, 11% of board members and 1.5% of fintech founders.

Jacqueline O’Neill — VP and head of product, Blockparty

In this interview, Jacqueline O’Neill, vice president and head of product at Web3 creator platform Blockparty, drops insights galore about NFT technology and women’s roles in the emerging NFT and crypto space. Far from a blockchain newbie, O’Neill has been involved in the crypto industry since 2016, and she launched her career as a professional artist years prior to that. Today, her passion is empowering and teaching artists to both build on the blockchain and build an audience.

O’Neill provides reflective and nuanced responses to such thought-provoking questions as:

  • Does helping NFT creators contribute to a sustainable social system?
  • Is the crypto/NFT space more inclusive than the traditional world of finance — or TradFi — or do crypto bros dominate the space the way finance bros dominate TradFi?
  • Does equal access to blockchain technology really provide equal opportunities for women in the space?
  • Does pseudonymity in the crypto space solve issues around gender and race?

O’Neill’s thoughts and perspective demonstrate her position as a luminary in the space. We couldn’t be happier to play a small role in helping to spread her message.

How to reduce gender disparity

While fintech is changing the business models of finance and technology companies, it hasn’t disrupted the gender disparity. That’s not to say the industry won’t or isn’t trying.

The UK treasury commissions the Kalifa Review that examines gender diversity in fintech. Global professional services organization EY and Innovate Finance used the review’s findings to produce its own report, Changing the Face of UK FinTech: Focusing on Gender Diversity and Equality, which laid out four priority areas to close the gender gap:

  • Support for female founders as they grow their businesses
  • More inclusive working environments
  • More robust and targeted recruitment and career support programs
  • A data-driven business case for change

A broader adoption of financial products and services will also affect diversity within fintech companies. In the US, men are almost twice as likely as women to have a digital-only bank account, with 10% using a neobank compared to 6% of women. It’s a similar story in the cryptocurrency world, with women making up just 26% of those who own crypto in America.

Why is fintech the future?

It’s hard to picture a world where fintech isn’t the future. From socializing to work, nearly every facet of our lives is so intertwined with technology that it’s only natural for our finances to get tied to it. Fintech also allows for broader access to financial technology.

Consider the pandemic: Many people in their homes with little to no interest or background in finance brought rise to memestocks and crypto coins. While it may not have resulted in a 100% positive effect, it’s one example of how democratizing tech has significantly affected finance.

Bottom line

Blockchain, AI, cloud computing and the Internet of Things are driving changes in how consumers purchase products and manage money. While traditional services companies may consider fintech a disruptor, those adopting new technologies, offering innovative services and reaching new customers are bound to be more competitive and successful now and in the future.

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