Barbara Rossato, Regional Head of Professional Services, Finantix

FintechThe world of banking has been notoriously male dominated, but the new and flourishing 21st Century world of fintech creates an ideal opportunity for women to work in the banking sector on an equal footing with men.

Yet a 2019 study of the UK fintech sector by EY   found a gender split of 70.5% male and 29.5% female. It also found that just 25% of fintechs had at least one female founder, and only a very disappointing 2% had a female only founder or female co-founders.

So we still have a mountain to climb to reach gender equality in fintech. There isn’t just one route up this mountain and I think we (that’s we in the fintech sector, all of us, men and women), need to take existing paths and create new ones. I think there’s a lot we need to do to encourage girls to take up STEM subjects at school. That’s well documented of course, and in Italy, where I live and work, there are initiatives to encourage girls into STEM topics just as there are in the UK.

It is really important to foster the women who come into an organisation. One aspect of that is to ensure there are plenty of women in senior positions – having someone who ‘looks like me’ at the top is inspiring. At Finantix, we have a female CEO Christine Ciriani, but in this Finantix is rare.

However, board level representation isn’t the only way to encourage and support women in fintech. Mentoring is also very important and it is a key part of many people’s roles at Finantix. I’ve mentored both women and men, and I’ve seen and heard about mentoring in other organisations. Some approaches are less helpful to the mentee than others. For example a teacherly approach, where the mentee listens and the mentor provides information is less productive than a collaborative approach, where the mentee’s aims and aspirations are talked through, possibilities discussed, and strategies worked out. I take the collaborative approach, and I’ve found I’ve learned from my mentees in the past. I see that as very positive for both mentor and mentee.

Once we have women in the organisation we need to ensure they have space to flourish. Perhaps part of that is redefining success – or taking a fresh look at what it means to do a job well. I’ve been used to getting up at 4am to jump on a plane to get to a meeting in another world city, and then return home late at night – with just a day’s notice beforehand.  Anyone, woman or man, can have reasons why that kind of working style isn’t viable for them. But they might have other skills that are just as important and just as useful to the company. We need to open our minds to new possibilities and new definitions of success so that we don’t miss out on real talent.

Getting more women to take up technical roles is important, but there are plenty of roles in fintech that don’t require programming or other technical skills. I have worked for Finantix for almost ten years and have during that time had developer and technical lead roles. Today my role as Regional Head of Professional Services (Europe and Americas) is removed from development, and I work more closely with clients on project management and client relations. Both roles are rewarding, and there are opportunities to do both throughout the fintech sector.

I think what really matters if we are serious about growing the number of women in fintech is to work across the whole range of strategies – and for everyone in an organisation to fully embrace the need to equalise the gender split. This isn’t a ‘woman thing’, it’s an organisational thing.

About the author

Barbara Rossato is Regional Head of Professional Services (Europe and Americas) at fintech firm Finantix, where she has worked for almost 10 years covering various developer and technical lead roles. She is based in Venice, Italy and is currently responsible for the projects and clients management, actively contributing to building the relationship and coaching the project management team.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here