Despite constituting more than 43% of the workforce, women occupy only 37% of positions from management in Brazil, according to the IBGE Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.
In startups, there is a culture of valuing people without the distinction of sex, appearance, and other codes that are relevant for traditional companies. Items like tattoos or colored hair, for example, are no problem in the selection process. But are the opportunities in startups the same for women?
What they say: what it’s like to be a woman in a startup
There is still no specific study on gender in startups, so I’ve talked to some women who work in financial startups – a traditionally male-dominated sector – to know about their day-to-day experiences, prospects, and gender bias.
Stephanie Fleury, Founder – DinDin App
Before undertaking her own company, Stéphanie worked for years in telecommunications. She soon realized that to stand out, it was not enough to have an opinion; it was necessary to have courage, to manifest and to introduce oneself in order to be heard and remembered.
Before the DinDin application, Stéphanie had already founded companies in the marketing and tourism sectors, which helped detect the problem that she solves today with her startup.
“No doubt, the prejudice has existed, like when I was a trainee back in 2002; I worked in the telecom market which was predominantly male. Today, although there are still some cases where there is more respect when there is a man in the room, they are rare. Today, I feel more respect and admiration on the other side of the table than the opposite,” said Stéphanie.
The equalizing power of innovation
In an innovative sector, it is easier to be heard and recognized, regardless of gender. This is the impression of Ana Vitória Baraldi, who has worked in a traditional bank and is Head of Customer Relationship and Asset Manager at Vérios today. “When you’re in a big company, it’s harder to be heard – here at Vérios, I feel like I’m being heard and I think this has to do with the environment of FinTech.”
But the inside of the company is not the only one a woman faces as a professional. As Head of Customer Experience, Ana says she often answer customers, and has had to listen to unnecessary comments such as pick-up lines, which the all-female attendance team experiences from time to time.
It is worth mentioning that Ana is in an egalitarian milieu in Vérios, where half the staff is comprised of men. But among asset managers, a woman is almost a rarity. According to the survey I made with the public data of the CVM, among the 100 managers who currently have a valid certificate issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM), only 5 of them are women.
Entrepreneurship as a path to inclusion
Another woman who has been among minorities since university was Ingrid Barth, Head of Corporate Banking at Banco Neon, and a graduate in engineering and economics. Ingrid notes how there has been an increase in the number of women in both areas in recent years.
Ingrid Barth, Banco Neon
She also believes that the startup environment is more responsive than the traditional one. “I see the difference because in innovative companies like startups, businesses are more horizontal, so you have more process agility and more chance to give ideas and be heard.”
Ingrid says that it still so happens that men usually respond to other men in the room even if she is ahead of the meeting or is superior to the others in hierarchy but that it is less likely to happen nowadays.