Take Notice, Not Notes: Insights from Our Female 3Pointers for Women’s History Month

One of our account managers, Nicole Hopkins, wanted to chat with the women of 3Points in celebration of Women’s History Month about the views of women in the current professional generation. Nicole, Lorna, Katie, Maddie, and Delilah held a discussion earlier this month to share their experiences in their careers.

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Since International Women’s Day is in March, and March is Women’s History Month, I wanted to talk with my fellow female colleagues at 3Points about both unfair stigmas associated with being a woman in business and the women-elevating trends we are seeing in the fintech and tech industries.

We touched on the different pressures these industries have on women, and the positive steps we see being made. Whether it is openly discussed or not, women are still oppressed in our society, but we are leaps and bounds from where we were, even just ten years ago. Below you’ll find a key excerpt from each 3Pointer, derived from our discussion, covering a topic that is very important to us all.

“Stop asking women to take notes. We can lead the meeting, we can be the voice that is heard, we don’t need to be the one taking down the conversation in the corner.”

I started working in the fintech industry ten years ago at a futures exchange, and have seen many positive changes in this industry in that time span. Women are now getting the opportunity to lead and are treated with more respect. It used to be that, in most meetings, the woman in the room was asked to be the note-taker even though she had the same qualifications to lead the discussion.

I wanted to be part of the change and that’s why I’m still working in capital markets today. There are so many advocates for women in fintech, such as Rick Lane, CEO of Trading Technologies, Jeremie Bacon, CEO of Imagineer Technology Group, and 3Points’ CEO, Drew Mauck, just to name a few whom I have worked closely with. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with many female fintech leaders, such as Maureen Downs (who has worked for and advised several firms in financial markets), Colleen Sullivan (CMT Digital), and Brookly McLaughlin (ICE), and although the industry is still unbalanced, these fierce women give me hope for the future.

“You don’t want to be the best woman at something, you want to be the best person at it.”

There are a lot of awards and honors out there specifically for women, but they can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, these give recognition to women who have made outstanding contributions to their fields and/or the world, but on the other hand, this recognition necessarily puts them in a separate category and may even diminish their achievements. It is essentially damning with faint praise — it seems to suggest that you’re not one of the “top people” in business, but you are one of the “top women” in business.

And the thing is, there obviously are women who deserve to be on the lists of top achievers for any given field. So, while women-only accolades do give much-deserved recognition to outstanding women, they can feel like a consolation prize, a pat on the back instead of the top honors.

Because we don’t expect more of the people who hand out such awards, this segregation continues, making the top honors even harder for women to reach. Shouldn’t she just be happy to be considered the best woman at something? No. She wants people to know that she’s the best person at it.

I’ve never been afraid to reach out and ask for advice or help from women in this industry, which is extremely powerful.

Ever since I moved to Chicago last year and began my career at 3Points, I have been fortunate enough to attend a variety of industry events, in both the fintech and startup spaces. I get to meet so many inspiring people through my job, many of whom are women. One thing I quickly found while attending these events and meeting an abundance of smart, successful women is that each and every one of them was more than willing to lend a hand or offer up their support or advice. Being new to the city and the workforce, I have plenty of questions for the women I meet. I always ask questions like, “How did you get to where you are today?” or “What do you wish you would have known when you were my age?”

I always feel that I leave each event with a lot of valuable insights that will guide me on my career journey for years to come. Although it can be quite intimidating being in a room full of women who have achieved so much, it is evident that this community is here to support each other, not compete with each other, and that really resonates with me.

“Women often have to work harder to prove their capabilities to earn the respect and trust that is more easily given to their male counterparts.”

As a woman in the business world it can be hard to alter expectations, especially when you’re a “young” woman, therefore facing a double disadvantage of age and gender. You can often find yourself needing to work harder and prove your capabilities to earn the respect and trust that is often more easily and inherently given to a man.

In addition to that, working in the mostly female-dominated field of public relations (in the U.S., women make up 60–80% of the industry’s workforce), while simultaneously working to represent our clients in the male-dominated field of fintech, is an interesting mix. I’ve been able to experience one extreme, while recently being introduced to the other. As more women are trusted in the C-suite of companies, I think we will see a large shift in influence in both fintech and PR and hopefully remove the stigma of women being less qualified for leadership roles.

“The ‘women-helping-women’ culture that does exist is fantastic, but men should also put in the effort to join the conversation in order to understand where the gaps are and how they can support our initiatives.”

I’ve had an interesting career that has allowed me to work in a variety of industries — education, fintech, and Chicago tech. On top of that, I’ve also lived in four cities — Austin, Nashville, Washington, D.C., and now Chicago. I found one thing to be consistent: the “women-helping-women” culture. It is really inspiring to see women helping women in all areas of the country, and there truly is no greater celebration than one woman rooting for another’s success. I’m fortunate that I have experienced and benefited from this culture. Throughout my career, I have had several female mentors who have helped me learn new skills, land promotions, and find jobs, all the while cheering me on every step of the way.

My diverse experience has also allowed me to see many different types of events, groups, and rallies for women. However, I noticed that men are often not involved in these events. Leaving men out of women-focused discussions and holding “women only” events puts men at a disadvantage to know how to better support women and understand the issues they face. I think that is something we, as an industry and society, can aim to adjust moving forward.

At 3Points we often ask ourselves, “What can we be doing to help the industry and the women in it?” We at 3Points want to help bring about more welcoming environments for women in the fintech, tech, and general business communities. As the saying goes, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” So we ask you to take the change upon yourself and recognize Women’s History Month and think about how you can help make a positive difference in your industry.

Written by

PR & Communications for Fintech & Chicago Tech. www.3ptscomm.com

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