At a time when women are woefully underrepresented in both the financial services and tech, the Fintech Times’ CEO, Katia Lang, has been named among the Top 100 Women in Fintech.
With just 1% of VC funding going to female founders, women are not only be denied access to opportunity, they’re also being starved of capital. This isn’t just bad for women, it’s bad for business. Diversity is the lifeblood of innovation; diversity of thought, diversity of approach and diversity of talent.
As the struggle for parity continues, lists like the Top 100 Women in Fintech list, compiled by Lattice 80, offer us an insight into how far we’ve come but also highlight how far we still have left to go. Among this year’s London contingent were Rainmaking Innovation’s Ghela Boskovich, Megan Caywood of Barclays and TFT’s
own Katia Lang.
In December 2015, in a feature called Forget About Female Founders for Disrupts magazine, Katia wrote;
“What we’re trying to say is that we don’t agree with separating the world into male and female. M and F, it works if it’s a toilet. But not the business space.
This space needs to be harmoniously equal and inspiring collaboration of both. We don’t praise something just because it’s founded by women. We don’t want to say that it is in any way better than something created by men.”
Yesterday, we asked the boss a few questions so see if her outlook has softened in the intervening years (Spoilers: They haven’t…);
How does it feel to be named in such prestigious company?
It feels wonderful. Being recognised always feels very rewarding, especially amongst such amazing entrepreneurs.
We don’t praise something just because it’s founded by women. We don’t want to say that it is in any way better than something created by men.
Also, it’s very pleasing to realise that we have featured some of these outstanding women in our paper over the years, observing their entrepreneurial journeys. It’s probably the most exciting thing about our business to be able to watch ideas shape into businesses, businesses that grow, pivot, change. And succeed. Or not. It doesn’t make it less of a journey.
To what extent does fintech operate on a level playing field? Would you say that the space has equality of opportunity?
I can’t speak for everyone, all I can comment on is my own experience. I come from a very conservative environment, where I was taught that “women talking about money is bad taste”, and that “no one likes a woman too clever”. I had changed 3 countries before ending up in London, where I finally feel I can do anything. The lucky few of us based in large international hubs – we have all the opportunities. It’s sad to realise that it’s not at all the case everywhere, it’s not yet a normal state of things. Sadly, I am not sure it ever will be.
With regards to gender equality in fintech, there probably is still a lot to be desired. However, I come from Arts, which felt about 90% female – and guess what, no one is trying to make it more equal and drag more blokes into doing fashion or ballet! So, what’s all the fuss about getting women into Fintech? I do realise it’s about to make me hugely unpopular, and before we get too far – I strongly believe that everyone should have equal opportunities whether they want to do Finance, Tech or modern dance for that matter. But there’s no one right kind of a career.
The lucky few of us based in large international hubs – we have all the opportunities.
Going back to whether it’s harder for a woman in Fintech/Finance. I think it must be harder for a woman to succeed in a corporate, where she effectively has to fit within the rigid environment created by men and FOR men. Which is why all the corporates have a lot of female career support programs and it’s great. While, in my opinion, the beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you’re building your own world, your own way of doing things, your own structures. And you can shape them as you want and create the environment you feel good in. I see a lot of women making a mistake of trying to do business “like men”. There’s no need. We can
do it our own way. And just because no many of us have done it yet, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
If you had to single out just one of your colleagues from the list for the exemplary work they’ve done in the past year, who would it be and why?
That’s a really tough one. I hugely admire all of them.
I especially love it when successful women help growing startups and young entrepreneurs. Women like Susanne Chisti, Jenny Tooth and Christina Richardson, in different ways, having achieved the most amazing things in their own careers, do a lot to support entrepreneurs around them, and I find that incredibly important. This creates nurturing environment for growing businesses, and on a personal level helps many of us to not give up and carry on.
What measures need to be put in place at a governmental level to quicken the glacial pace of change?
No idea. Maybe let us pay less tax? But that would be sexist haha.