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Smashing the glass ceiling: takeaways from our International Women’s Day event

Audience sit on red chairs and look on at the stage, smiling.

Join us as we rewind the clock to our unforgettable event: smashing the glass ceiling, forging a tech career that works for you.

At 10x Banking, we believe in fostering an inclusive environment, which is why our Women & Friends employee network were honored to host this empowering gathering, where barriers were broken, and voices were amplified.

Held in celebration of International Women’s Day, our event brought together a diverse array of speakers from across the fintech industry, ranging from seasoned leaders to ambitious students eager to make their mark.

Why we chose the theme

The event was hosted by our Women & Friends network, who wanted a theme that galvanized the industry around a call to action. With this in mind, the network landed on “smashing the glass ceiling”. The concept of “smashing the glass ceiling” has long been a rallying cry for gender equality in the workplace, particularly in industries like technology and financial services, where women have historically been underrepresented. Coined in the 1980s, the term refers to the invisible, yet formidable, barriers that prevent women and other marginalized groups advancing to higher levels of leadership and success.

Despite significant strides in recent years, the tech industry continues to grapple with gender disparities. According to data from the European Commission, women make up only 17% of IT specialists in the European workforce as of 2019. Additionally, research from UNESCO highlights that less than one-third of tech sector employees globally are women.

Nadia stands on stage in front of a slide that reads Myth 1: Gender Equality Isn't Mission Critical

These statistics underscore that there’s still an urgent need to have discussions around the glass ceiling that lead to the dismantling of systematic barriers and the creation of more inclusive pathways for women in tech. The second part the theme, “forging a tech career that works for you”, embodies the need to create paths that work for women from all backgrounds, putting intersectionality at the forefront and raising the voices of women who have often been omitted from the conversation.

10x Product Director and Women & Friends Network Co-Chair, Katie McNeill, said: “The theme of the evening encapsulated the network’s mission – to create an empowering environment where women can progress to the next stage of their careers. As a company dedicated to innovation and making the industry 10x better, at 10x, we understand breaking barriers isn’t just a goal – it’s a necessity.”

By acknowledging the history of the industry and confronting the current reality of gender inequality in tech, we can drive meaningful change.

Highlights from the evening

It’s hard to summarize the event into just a few highlights. Each speaker was insightful and open, sharing refreshingly vulnerable stories from their careers. We took to LinkedIn to see what the audience felt were the key takeaways.

Setting the tone for the evening, the first item on the agenda was a fireside chat between Becky Pinkard, MD Global Cyber Operations at Barclays, and Antony Jenkins, 10x’s CEO. Nicolas Cary, Co-Founder at Blockchain.com said: “I think my favorite quote was from Becky, who described how her whole trajectory changed when she ‘wanted to go learn for herself.’ And she found her deep reservoir of motivation.”

Becky and Antony sit on the stage, smiling at the audience

They were followed by 10x’s Product Marketing Manager, Nicole Sanders, and her mentee Layli Salimi-Tabar, who shared the importance of building a community to support you. Dr Yuhua Wang, a lecturer in Information Systems, said: "It was also empowering to hear from Nicole Sanders and her mentee from The Girls’ Network on how the network has and is continuingly supporting girls/women in career development.” On the topic of community building, Yuhua added: “Great to have connected with so many women and friends/supporters from varying career stages and professional backgrounds.”

Another student, Zara Nithin, took to the stage to share her journey entering the tech industry. Faheem Khan, Founder of Future Leaders said: “Zara was a student on our Future Leaders program, and we took her on a career insight day to 10x. Last night she delivered a speech to an auditorium of tech professionals… Zara was inspired on that initial visit to 10x and started to believe she could have a career in this male-dominated industry, despite only 28% of tech professionals being female… This story perfectly encapsulates the power of an opportunity for young people and the difference it can make.”

Nadia Edward’s-Dashti, Co-Founder of Harrington Starr Group – a FinTech recruitment firm, then delivered a talk that busted gender myths in the industry. “Nadia’s insightful words addressed critical issues facing women in tech,” said Junior Software Engineer, Joana Brito. “One particularly striking revelation was the statistic revealing that half of women drop out of tech careers by the age of 35.”

close up of 2 panelists, Oge holds the microphone while Anne listens

Our panel discussion, chaired by 10x’s Lizzie Noel, brought together Anne Gosal from KPMG, Cheryl Razzell from AWS, and 10x’s Oge Opara-Nadi. Marketing Manager Olivia De Beukelaer highlighted a quote from Anne, who said: “Be prepared to be your own advocate. Putting your head down and working hard only gets you so far.”

Software Engineer Danielle I summarized the event: “It was epic! The lineup of speakers was hand down the best I’ve seen so far, covering everything from myth busting diversity deniers to the art of building communities in tech. But what truly stole the show were the inspiring stories shared by women from diverse backgrounds, each finding their unique path in the tech world.”

What next

The conversations during the networking portion of the evening showed there was real desire to build on the momentum of the event.

10x’s Chief Impact Officer and Women & Friends Network Co-Chair, Amanda Jenkins, said: “This event was just the start. We’re determined to harness the passion the evening inspired to build a community of people ready to tackle diversity in tech. Everyone is welcome to join us on our journey to create an industry where everyone belongs and has the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

If you’d like to join us on our mission building a diverse tech community, please reach out to impact@10xbanking.com. We can’t wait to hear your ideas.