International Women’s Day (IWD) is a worldwide celebration of the social, economic, cultural, and political accomplishments of women. It is also a day to highlight the continuous fight for gender equality, which remains a significant issue in today’s world. This year, as we mark IWD on March 8th, it is essential to contemplate the history of this day, its relevance in our current society, and how we can encourage gender equality in the workplace, particularly in the rapidly expanding fintech industry.
The origins of International Women’s Day can be traced back to the early 1900s when women in the United States and Europe began to demand better working conditions, the right to vote, and an end to discrimination. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York City, demanding better pay, shorter working hours, and the right to vote. In 1910, a woman named Clara Zetkin proposed the concept of an International Women’s Day at a conference of the Socialist International in Copenhagen. The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.
Today, IWD is celebrated across the world, with events ranging from marches and rallies to conferences and cultural performances. It is a day to acknowledge the achievements of women in all fields, from politics and business to art and science. Women continue to face significant barriers to entry and progression in many industries. In the fintech industry, which is well-known for its innovative and fast-paced work environment, women are particularly underrepresented. According to a 2022 study by the InternationalMonetary Fund (IMF), as of September 2020, the proportion of women executives in fintech companies was around 7%. Women’s representation on executive boards in fintech companies is relatively low both in comparison to the proportion of women in executive boards of technology firms—which is approximately 14.5%—and in banks and banking supervision agencies—which is 23% and 33% respectively.
Our members Accenture, ING, Mckinsey, and Rabobank, as well as other companies, have taken significant strides in promoting gender equality in various industries across the globe. Through their active participation, these organizations have made commendable efforts toward empowering women and ensuring a fair and inclusive work environment. Although large corporations are putting in significant efforts, it is the women who are driving change and creating a substantial impact in the working environment. The fintech industry is fortunate to have a group of outstanding female leaders who are at the forefront of promoting gender equality. These women are paving the way for a more inclusive industry by breaking down barriers and challenging gender stereotypes. Among these exceptional individuals are Annemieke Roobeek, President of the Board of Holland Fintech. Tracey Davies, who serves as the President of Money20/20 and is a well-respected figure in the fintech community. Another notable name is Marla Blow, the Senior Vice President for social impact at Mastercard, who has played a key role in driving Mastercard’s gender equality initiatives. Additionally, Langley Eide, the Chief Financial Officer of Mambu, has been instrumental in transforming Mambu’s culture into one that is more inclusive and diverse. These remarkable women serve as shining examples of how female leadership can positively impact the fintech industry and beyond.
The Netherlands is a hub for technology and fintech, and there are several associations that empower women in the industry:
- Women in Tech NL
Women in Tech NL is a nonprofit organization that aims to support and empower women in technology in the Netherlands. They provide networking opportunities, mentorship programs, and events to help women advance their careers in tech. Women in Tech NL also works to promote gender diversity and inclusion in tech and provides a platform for women in the industry to connect and collaborate.
VHTO is a Dutch organization that aims to increase the participation of girls and women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). The organization offers various programs and activities to encourage girls and women to pursue careers in tech, including mentoring programs, workshops, and events.
3. Women in AI
Women in AI is a global organization with a chapter in the Netherlands that supports and promotes women working in the field of artificial intelligence. The group aims to increase diversity and inclusivity in the industry by providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and educational resources.
4. Female Ventures
Female Ventures is a community of women entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. While not specifically focused on tech or fintech, they offer resources and support to women in all industries who are starting and growing their own businesses.
As we commemorate International Women’s Day this year, it is important to remember the struggles that women have faced throughout history and the progress that has been made toward achieving gender equality. However, it is also crucial to recognize that there is still much work to be done, particularly in industries where women are underrepresented. The fintech industry is no exception, but it is heartening to see that there are exceptional female leaders who are driving change and promoting inclusivity. We must continue to support and empower these women and work towards creating a more diverse and equal workplace for all. By doing so, we can build a brighter and more equitable future for generations to come.