Women in tech: women and the future of fintech
• Women in tech need to differentiate self-esteem and self-worth.
• The technology we’re developing is enormously powerful.
• But it’s actually the difference humans can bring that’s crucial to the future of fintech.
In our series of interviews with women in tech, we sat down recently with Monica Eaton, co-founder of Chargebacks911, a fintech firm that saves companies getting unduly hit with chargebacks.
In Part 1 of this article, Monica told us of the different nature of the fintech enironment, which historically has been more welcoming to “non-traditional” views than the majority of the tech world, because its whole function is to think differently and create new world realities, rather than simply update or streamline existing ones.
Towards the end of Part 1, Monica mentioned that, of all the difficulties that still exited for women joining the fintech world, probably the largest centered on self-esteem, self-worth, and having the ability to get up, try a thing, fail, and carry on.
We asked her to expand on that.
Women in tech: overcoming challenges.
You mentioned that the biggest barrier was that idea of knowing you can do the job, and expanding the definition of what “doing the job” means out beyond simple task-based goals – “solve this problem” – to something broader and more ultimately productive. How do you overcome that barrier?
In terms of “overcoming,” I think there’s a difference between self-esteem and self-worth. Those are two different things.
Self-esteem comes from getting approval from others, and as women, we may get approval from you by sticking to an expected societal norm. Let’s go totally “traditional.” You clean the house well, you’re a good mother, all of those things check the “approval from others” box, so that’s what we work towards.
Then you come into the workplace. And sometimes that tradition is quite ingrained, where we’re still looking for approval. This isn’t just women, by the way, many of us struggle with this. But if you’re looking for approval from others, and that’s how you build your self-esteem, that’s not very stable, because as soon as they change their mind, as soon as something else comes along, it’s gone.
Women in tech: the fintech mindset
Then you don’t have anything to make you confident. And then you’re on a rollercoaster of emotions, and those emotions end up affecting your productivity. So instead, I like to say “Forget self-esteem.” Don’t go for approval from anyone else, actually go for approval from yourself.
And this is how you get it – by performing. You get it by setting a goal that’s hard, you get it by raising the bar for yourself, by making yourself do things that challenge you. And every time that you succeed in a goal that you set, write it down.
It doesn’t even have to be big, it could be as straightforward as accomplishing a workout schedule. But those things create confidence that doesn’t shatter. And that also starts building an aptitude where you have confidence in your ability to solve problems, to learn something, and then it really doesn’t matter.
Now you have something else that’s driving you. And people notice that when you’re an expert in a room, not because others gave you a compliment, recognizing that you were an expert, but because you know you’re an expert, and you did what it takes to be an expert, and you went through the trial and error. That’s really powerful.
It also builds a type of resilience, where eventually, for instance, if I go into a meeting, I’m not thinking “Do they like me? Are they gonna like me?” I’m thinking “I know how to solve this problem.” And actually, there’s not even a doubt that I know how to solve this problem. I know how to solve this problem better than anyone. And that is a very powerful thing.
Of course, you’re constantly learning, and it’s humbling as well, especially in fintech, because whatever you thought you knew? Wait a year. You’ll discover all the stuff that you really didn’t know, which makes things even more exciting.
Women in tech and the speed of change.
We were going to say, fintech in particular is a rapid cycle compared to almost everything else. So how does it look to you now compared to when you started? You said that in the last 5-10 years, it had changed dramatically?
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Yeah, it’s changed substantially. On the one hand, I am scared to death. It’s scary. It’s like I have to control myself not to subscribe to every conspiracy theory around the corner. On the other hand, it’s super-exciting.
I think in terms of how things have changed, it’s like we’ve gone through this space for the last ten years where humans have been reduced and needed less and less. It’s all about technology. It’s all about your product, and that’s it.
We’re in an unprecedented time. And the speed at which technology can be developed, can launch, can iterate, can self-iterate, is amazing. It’s going to create such a tremendous amount of disruption in the fintech space that we’re going to have that moment of course correction, where the fintechs that will be successful are those that have deep rooted relationships, and connections. Where people are valued again.
Five, ten years ago, it was all about the technology, the platform, everything was on autopilot, because this was something very unique, that was difficult to create, and a tremendous unique advantage.
With the collaboration and the speed at which technology can fuse and take shape now though, you need something else. So the companies that will survive and thrive and create disruption are going to be those that have a wider scope.
That’s going to force us to look at how we can solve problems better for society in ways that are socially responsible. I think that will elevate our game. So exciting, and definitely a new phase.
Women in tech: people power.
That’s an identifiable shift, isn’t it? Because now, everyone can have the same box of magic tricks – so it’s the skills and the value of your human beings that will make the difference in this tech-enabled world.
Exactly. When you focus too hard on the tech, you miss out on the ingenuity and the humanity that really makes things successful. And lots of people have made that mistake, myself included. For years, all I wanted was the technology to solve a problem. You always learn lessons, especially in business, and my focus was 100% on the technology.
“We’re going to have the best product in the world, we’re going to be five years ahead of everybody else.”
What I’ve learned is that as our business continues to grow, technology doesn’t hold a candle to the people, and ingenuity, and the owner mentality, and the relationships and the strategics. That is really the magic that makes things work.
So often, especially in the fintech industry, we forget that you’re not going to be anywhere if you don’t have great clients, great partners, great connections. It’s those deep relationships that really matter. It’s not what you know, but who you know, and how you interact with them.
I always disagreed with that mantra. “No it isn’t, I can build this, it doesn’t matter who I know, because we’re actually going to have the best.”
But the world has come full circle and yeah, turns out the lesson is that the value of human beings is key to building the best, having the best, and enjoying the journey along the way.
The future of finech.
That invites a little prophecy. Where do you see the fintech sector generally, two years, five years from now?
There can be speculation on so many levels. I think we’ll go through a lot of consolidation, especially in the banking industry. And we’ll probably eliminate several cottage industries as well. Because what will happen is that with more transparency and access to technology, things will get exposed.
Many organizations, even industries today are in business to solve a problem that exists due to ignorance, due to lack of transparency, due to lack of data.
Look at data. It’s the most powerful ingredient in our entire planet. There’s only ever a problem because there’s not enough data, or there’s missing data, or there is data but it’s not interpreted correctly. There’s literally not a single problem that can’t be solved if you have the right equation.
As we look at this revolution that is going on with data sharing with technology, governments are getting involved, the whole world is focused on one thing. I think we’ll see more data become democratized and it will shake things up. And, you know, I think we’ll have a better world as a result.
Disrupting the “ordinary” is what fintech is all about. In a general patriarchy, that means the more women are in the system, the better.
28 September 2023
28 September 2023