Female Founders in FinTech: Is There True Equality of Opportunity?

Despite being a typically male-dominated field, women are making tremendous strides in the field of fintech.

However, women are sending shockwaves through the status quo time and time again, with statistics showing that in the last 12 years, close to 214 fintech and financial services startups have been founded by women as founders and co-founders.

Not only that, the YourStory Research Data further revealed that between 2015 and 2021, women founder-led fintech startups closed approximately 22 deals, amounting to $40.34 million, and this figure has only been expanded in the post-pandemic world of fintech.

However, despite the success of female founders globally, startups founded by women are still only making up just 4% of total investment, which really is a damning position for an industry premised on revolutionising the traditional finance sector. In the UK, female-led fintech funding dropped by two-thirds in the first half of 2022, further widening the gender investment gap in the male-dominated industry.

The industry has been male-dominated since it first came to fruition, and whilst other issues such as the struggling global economy, rising inflation and living costs are being attributed to the lack of investment in female founders, however, evidence shows that fintech startups with at least one female leader generally outperform those without any female representation at the top.

Statistics by Deloitte revealed that just 30% of the fintech workforce is female. Moreover, the gender imbalance in fintech stretches beyond a lack of female professionals; whilst the number of female-founded financial technology companies has increased, it is estimated that they receive 50% less capital from funding rounds than male-founded startups.

According to a report by EY, less than half of women fintech founders feel able to raise equity capital, compared to 62% of male founders, and less than a third of women feel able to access debt funding, compared to 44% of men.

So this begs the question, what can the fintech industry do to ensure that females are afforded the same opportunities as males?

“Firstly, the culture of the workplace is something that could be addressed,” explains Ben Sweiry of finance startup, Dime Alley.

“To address the gender imbalance within their workforces, more needs to be done to support and accommodate female employees and leaders. Implementing seminars and meetings to share female workplace perspectives can help to broach talking points and ensure that female voices are heard within the company.”

Secondly, the statistics presented above evidenced how companies with female representation at the top outperform those that are completely male-dominated. Therefore, a greater effort should most definitely be made to move more female fintech professionals into positions of leadership. Having an established spine of female voices throughout fintech companies, and the industry as a whole, gives women in fintech greater autonomy over policies and structures that will directly affect them, and their professional lives.

Lastly, fintech firms should look to increase the ‘visibility’ of female leaders from within. In essence, this involves shining a light on the successes of female leaders within the firms, which will, in turn, instil belief for women looking to break into the industry, and provide confidence for those already in the industry who are hoping to one day become a VP or CEO.

Going forward, it is vital that female founders are empowered and better supported if the industry is to ensure access to the same opportunities across the genders, especially when it comes to scaling up.