Inside Track: A New Era of Women Leaders Revolutionizing Tech Regulation

June 28, 2024

How Women’s World Banking’s new TechEquity Program for women policymakers, regulators, and supervisors is leveraging new research to tackle wicked industry problems

By Sonja Kelly (Vice President, Research & Advocacy) and Elizabeth Ingerfield (Manager, Leadership & Diversity Programs)

Tech jobs are not a tool for exclusion—they are a radical new tool for inclusion, according to the recently released OMFIF Gender Balance Index. According to the report, the share of women in senior tech roles is 31%, which is on par or higher than the share of women in other senior roles in central banks. Tech expertise is an enabler of women’s agency in their roles—and therefore an enabler of inclusive policy for women customers.

Getting women into the “inside track” to be able to make policy, regulate, and supervise our increasingly tech-enabled world, however, is tricky. Women’s World Banking’s new program for women leaders, funded by the Visa Foundation, seeks to address this challenge, and applications for TechEquity: Women in Inclusive Tech Regulation have just opened.

In celebration of this ribbon-cutting milestone, we are sharing our top 5 suggestions that women can use to make their way to the elusive “inside track” on navigating our technology-enabled financial services ecosystem.

  1. Don’t seek to be an expert. Seek to be a strategist. Policymakers, regulators, and supervisors have no time to be experts. They must instead be strategists, learning the skills of building teams of experts, horizon-scanning for future risks and opportunities, and developing their own leadership muscles. Strong policy emerges from generalists who understand the full landscape of competing priorities and know what questions and resources to bring to bear on each one. Our program isn’t focused on developing technology expertise but rather on the broad contours of technology and the strategic thinking and team-building needed to make sense of them.

  2. Find senior sponsors and mentors. When someone else has climbed the ladder of success, the best thing they can do is lower it back down for the next person. Our program takes pairs from financial institutions—a high-potential woman and a senior official—and moves them through parallel tracks to ensure that the policy initiatives emerging from the program have the right level of buy-in and sponsorship. Having a senior official also forms the bedrock for community support for the woman leader.

  3. Engage with industry. Industry is where the innovation is emerging from. Proactive policy, regulation, and supervision must take into account industry perspectives and expertise. Through industry engagement emerges a more nuanced understanding of risk and opportunity. Divorced from industry, government officials risk creating irrelevant policy or will policy that stifles innovation.

  4. Stop getting enamored with technology. Get enamored with problems instead. When technology drives the agenda, it will always be a hammer looking for a nail. When problems drive the agenda, officials can purpose-fit solutions. Our TechEquity program designs starts with articulating the “wicked industry problems” that demand innovative solutions rather than starting with the solutions themselves.

  5. Stay curious and say yes to opportunities to learn! We are looking for 30 women ready to take their journey into technology leadership in their institutions for the sake of women’s financial inclusion. Eligible participants may be from central banks, relevant ministries, or supervisory institutions, and should be ready and excited to learn.

As we embrace the transformative potential of technology in the financial sector, it’s clear that tech expertise is not a barrier but a bridge to women’s leadership in central banks, ministries of finance, and supervisory institutions. Programs like TechEquity: Women in Inclusive Tech Regulation are pivotal in equipping women with the strategic insights and support networks needed to navigate and lead in this evolving landscape. By fostering a culture of mentorship, industry engagement, problem-solving, and continuous learning, we can ensure that women are not just participants but leaders in shaping the future of finance. Through these efforts, we pave the way for a more inclusive, innovative, and resilient financial system that benefits everyone.