Women & Financial Inclusion: The STEM of the issue

by Victoria Yasinetskaya on May 12, 2017

Fact: Women entrepreneurs are good for the economy. 

A study by MSCI, stated that companies with female presence at top management level generated a 36.4% average increase on equity over those that have a predominantly male board of directors. An even playing field for women and men is no laughing matter: it equates to an extra US$28 trillion per year, or a 26% rise in global GDP by 2025, according to a report by McKinsey Global Institute in 2015.

With these numbers clearly proving the benefits of a more female leadership within companies, larger numbers of female-run businesses and the economic benefits thereof, greater strides need to be made to incentivize women and their entrepreneurial ventures. What’s clear is that this is not just about women or solely for their gain, nor is it just women’s business to make this a reality. The more women in positions of power, the brighter the future for women, men and a country’s future economy. Everyone needs to get on board to close the financial gender gap.

Doing away with chauvinistic traditions and stereotypes is vital for progress. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sector, historically dominated by men, falls short when it comes to incorporating women, and as such are far from reaching their full potential. Women have long been discouraged from pursuing roles in scientific or technological, or ‘masculine’ industries, particularly in developing countries, but the creation of initiatives such as the APEC Women in STEM, aim to address the issue head-on, speaking directly to high-level government representatives to generate awareness and a greater level of commitment in increasing numbers of women in this field.

It is especially in these more traditionally male-powered economies, that finding the means for women to achieve financial inclusion is key. Digital financial services have the ability to provide women with not only greater autonomy with their money, but a security, control and a level of financial literacy that had previously not be available to them.

The Role of Digital in Female Inclusion

The benefits that digital banking offers entrepreneurial women are numerous. Firstly, the ability to work from home for many women marks the difference between launching a business or otherwise.

For women who have never experienced financial independence and who have no credit history, digital channels provide them with access to insurance, credit and with little to no associated risk. Women-owned SMEs will begin to be more commonplace and financial participation an everyday occurrence for women who hitherto had been marginalized. Control, autonomy and security all add up to a generation of more financially-literate females and a step in the right direction for the world’s economy as the gap closes.

Even at a basic level, the ability to save and plan their financial future in a transparent and accessible way, empowers women to take a more active role in establishing short and long-term goals.

The Fearless Girl: The Future of Finance is Female

The issue of women’s economic integration is currently at the top of the agenda of
 banking and government the world over. Women20 (W20), now in its 16 th year, urges the G20 to focus their efforts on “removing the digital gender divide…and tackl[ing] gender segregation, especially in the area of STEM, by addressing it in the education system, in corporate development, and through new role models”. This issue is not new, but its current prevalence is thanks to women in senior roles and government raising awareness and putting the focus where it is needed. 

State Street Bank demonstrated their solidarity with the cause by placing a statue named “The Fearless Girl” on Wall Street, bravely opposite the bull who has spent some 30 years in the same spot. The motive? To put pressure on companies to add more women to their boards, proving that perspectives have changed and should continue to do so.

She represents a change of direction in the world of finance and a new vision of the role women play. There is undoubtedly a long road ahead in this regard, but the footprint has been firmly set in stone - or bronze – for all to see.

 

About
Victoria Yasinetskaya
Victoria Yasinetskaya

Marketing expert with 11+ years of experience executing marketing and strategy projects, mainly in financial services and FinTech. Co-author of the Russian edition of the international bestseller "Reinventing Financial Services".

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