Last week, we hosted our first Women in Tech event at Zopa. People from all over the industry joined us for an evening of eating mince pies, networking and listening to the thoughts and ideas of an impressive line-up of leading fintech women. For those that missed it, I’ve put together a little rundown of the evening and what I took away from both organising and attending the event.
Diana Biggs, our keynote speaker kicked things off. Prior to joining HSBC as Head of Business Model Innovation, she’d been working (and absolutely bossing it!) in blockchain technologies. But she was here to share a different message.
She started by highlighting some sad truths about the industry. The numbers of women studying STEM degrees are declining and the numbers leaving the tech industry are on the increase. This doesn’t come as a surprise given the headlines we’ve seen in the last year.
However, her talk wasn’t all doom and gloom. She had promising stories to tell.
For example, in her experience as a mentor for the start-up accelerator, Gaza Sky Geeks, she’s seen increasing female participation. The reason why? Families are starting to see the economic benefit of allowing their children, regardless of gender, to enrol in these programmes. (Check out this article on Medium for more info).
In households where daughters wouldn’t otherwise have jobs or be developing their professional skills, families are starting to earn significantly higher income. As their fledgling businesses grow, the stigma against them working is starting to lessen.
This is an example of where actions have spoken louder than words, reminding us that it’s never enough to simply talk about the benefits of diversity – we have to show them.
Next up was a panel discussion hosted by our very own head of investor products, Natasha Wear. Joining her was fellow Zopian Marie Steinthaler, Alice Newton-Rex (VP of Product at World Remit), Myra Waiman (Founder and CEO of Infi-tex) and Arshia Gratiot (Founder and CEO of Third Space Auto Ltd).
For anyone that’s read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, their stories perfectly demonstrated how “careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder”. As they described their routes into tech, it was remarkable how unique each of their journeys were. This just goes to show the variety of jobs available and how valued different experiences are in the industry.
Speaking of different experiences, as a Zopa newbie (and only two months into my role as a Mobile Developer), it was great to be part of the team that brought this event to life and a completely different challenge to my day-to-day work buried in code.
In the new year, we’ll be announcing a series of new events so if you’re interested in attending, or you’re looking for a venue to host your next meetup, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch this space!