To celebrate women in fintech, we ask Pinar Ozcan to share her career journey and thoughts on what can be done to address the industry gender imbalance.
It’s widely recognised that women are underrepresented in fintech, both as employees and in its userbase, but there are a growing number of women changing that, including Pinar Ozcan, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Saïd Business School’s Director of the Oxford Future of Finance and Technology Initiative.
What attracted you to the fintech industry, and did you face any barriers as a woman?
'As an academic researcher in strategy and entrepreneurship, I was drawn to the fintech industry because of its fast-paced innovation and the potential to disrupt traditional financial services. I was also intrigued by the opportunity to study the intersection of technology, finance and entrepreneurship. As a woman, I have faced some barriers in the fintech industry, including a lack of representation at senior levels and unconscious bias. But I have to say that it is getting better fast.
What challenges currently face women in the industry?
'Despite progress, there are still many challenges facing women in the fintech industry. Some of these challenges include a lack of representation in leadership positions, gender pay gaps, unconscious bias and a lack of access to venture capital funding. (The next female fintech founder we will feature in our Female founders in fintech series, Shefali Roy, addresses this directly). Women also face additional barriers if they are part of underrepresented groups, such as women of colour, LGBTQ+ women or women with disabilities. Banking is still very much a white, old boys' club, but there is now enough force to change that. It will just take time.
What needs to be done to increase the number of women in the industry?
'To increase the number of women in the fintech industry, several things need to change. Firstly, companies need to be more intentional about diversity and inclusion efforts, including hiring, promotion and retention practices. Secondly, there needs to be more support for female entrepreneurs in the fintech space, including access to funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Finally, there needs to be greater representation of women in leadership positions, both within fintech companies and in the broader financial industry.
Approximately 30% of the fintech workforce are women, an increase from 10% five years ago. Where do you see the gender split in the industry over the next five years?
'I am optimistic that the gender split in the fintech industry will continue to improve in the coming years. I would expect to see the proportion of women in the industry increase to around 40% in the next 1-2 years, to around 50% in the next 5 years. However, this will require continued effort and commitment from companies and individuals to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry. We are doing what we can at Oxford by featuring females in fintech at our events and publications, and encouraging female students to pursue a career in fintech by exposing them to the industry and equipping them with entrepreneurship skills.
Lastly, who inspires you as a leader in the fintech industry?
'There are many inspiring leaders in the fintech industry who have broken barriers and paved the way for women in the field. Some of these include Anne Boden, the CEO of Starling Bank, Janine Hirt, CEO of Innovate Finance, and Shefali Roy, Founder of First Look VC. To feature some of the amazing female founders in fintech, I have started a case study series at Oxford where we feature a female founder and her amazing journey every quarter.'