Growing up I wanted to be Peter Jackson, the genius behind the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. What I really meant was that I wanted to be a film director, but the distinct lack of female role models available to me meant I picked the next best thing: a man with unruly curly hair and glasses (I had both).
I remember announcing as a kid that I was going to be the first female director to win an Oscar. Kathryn Bigelow might have beaten me to it in 2014, but looking back it seems shocking that growing up there was so little recognition for female talent in a predominantly male industry.
It's important then, for us to acknowledge that a lack of identifiable role models can have a serious impact in the choices we make. Research has shown that in the tech industry, women are still under-represented: while in non-tech sectors women account for almost half of all entry level employees, in tech this sits at only 36.8%. Likewise, in other industries only 22.8% of women surveyed felt their gender was a career disadvantage while in tech 37.1% of women felt it was.
With ongoing efforts to encourage more women into tech roles, and more school-aged girls to study STEM subjects, more should be done to highlight successful women in tech. Relate-able, identifiable role models are surely a better way to reduce the gender gap than campaigns like IBM's #HackAHairdryer disaster.
Following the disheartening announcement by the World Economic Forum that gender parity in the workplace won't be achieved for another 117 years, it seems now more than ever the women disrupting industries, founding companies and driving change should be celebrated. The Memo's list of 16 women leading the way in FinTech is a great way to start.
“Businesses should represent the world in which they operate. We have our female COO running our hiring campaigns, from the job descriptions to the interviewing. And lo, women apply.” “It’s hard to feel like you’ll fit in if you don’t see or hear anyone who is like you – that’s true beyond gender.” - Emily MacKay, Founder of Crowdsurfer