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Women in Banking – Sonja Kelly (WWB)

For the month of March, in honor of International Women’s Day, the Cambridge SupTech Lab will be featuring inspiring leaders of women in finance and financial supervision. We asked them questions about women in banking as well as about career advice and mentorship. Our next leader is Sonja Kelly, Vice President, Research & Advocacy, Women’s World Banking (WWB).

Q: How do advancements in suptech create more opportunities for women in banking to receive fair treatment, equitable and non-discriminatory access to the financial system? 

 A: I have long been troubled by statements from financial services providers like “We don’t treat men and women differently because we don’t even have their gender listed in our system,” “Women are better repayers in our portfolio than men are,” or “Half of our borrowers are women, so we are definitely not biased against women.” In the first instance, there is no way to monitor differential treatment. In the second, it’s possible women are better repayers because their loan sizes are smaller than men’s. In the third, what if women are ¾ of applicants but only half of borrowers? Supervisors have the authority to be able to monitor gender balance among women customers, but they don’t often have the tools to do so. Advancements in suptech would make monitoring of indicators like these over time translate into real world opportunities for women in banking.

Q: What inspires you about working towards greater gender equity and financial inclusion through your role in financial supervision and central banking? 

A: Financial supervision and central banking have the power to create systems change like few other levers in the financial system. Whereas one financial institution might effect change with a few thousand women (or a few million in the case of some markets), financial supervisors and central bankers have the power to change entire economies to create more inclusion. And the incentives are there: research confirms that more inclusive economies are most stable, sound economies. Ensuring financial services work for all is good for individuals and good for entire economies as well. 

Read more about women in banking, females in financial supervision, and national-international women’s day!

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Cambridge SupTech Lab

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Jose Miguel Mestanza Hirakata

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Juliet Ongwae

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Kalliopi Letsiou

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Matt Grasser

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Matt Grasser and Kalliopi Letsiou

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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Simone di Castri

Cambridge SupTech Lab

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