Gender diversity at Marqeta: A view from the front line

In this series of blogs about gender diversity in the fintech world, we’ve looked at the sector as a whole and we’ve spoken to industry influencers. For the final installment it’s only fair to look at how Marqeta is performing. And there’s no better way to do this than to speak to women working within the company.

The picture that emerges from talking to these women is one of hope and optimism, along with an appetite for building on achievements to date. Sure, people have experienced challenges and moments of self-doubt in their careers, but there’s a consistent theme shining through. And that is that things are improving — and have been for some time.

Concerns that have surfaced tend to relate more to wider societal trends. For example, men reported to be more enthusiastic about returning to the office after the pandemic, which risks leading to male-dominated workplaces. This is something I think Marqeta is attuned to as an organisation and is proactively seeking ways to respond.

I interviewed Senior Vice President Renata Caine, Head of Customer Success (for Europe) Julie Sutton, Group Product Manager Stephanie Pitts, and Niteeka Chaudhry, Production Support. In my conversations with them it became clear that while the business has yet to achieve a perfect balance of gender diversity, it is working towards that goal.

Julie is passionate about improving customer journeys in a way that’s strategic, evidence-based, and results-driven. She’s been in financial services for 20 years and has seen this historically male-dominated world evolve.

“In my team there are four women and I’m very proud of that, but we’re also seeing more women in developer roles which have traditionally been the preserve of men. So this is highly encouraging,” she said.“Scanning my experience across my time with Marqeta and before, there is a noticeable change that has definitely gained momentum in the last 5 to 10 years. It’s so encouraging to see the ratio of females to males increasing and more women addressing the gender pay gap.”

For Julie, one of the biggest shifts is in being seen as an equal, and she believes momentum towards greater diversity and equality is building all the time.

Steph, Marqeta’s Group Product Manager, concurs. “Over the past few years, I have noticed a shift to respecting characteristics like consensus-building, empathy, and active listening as hallmarks of strong leaders. That feels like a positive change in understanding how women can be successful in the top tiers of companies.”

Of Marqeta, Steph feels the business has come a long way to building trust in areas of gender diversity, but has room to grow. She explained, “Our product org, especially close to the core platform, is very female-led. For all of last year, our Financial Data Service org comprised female product managers and designers. That said, our engineering team is predominantly male. So while there’s some work to do to even things out, I don’t see payments as super skewed toward male domination.”

Steph noted Marqeta’s willingness to listen and engage, especially with the women of SWIPE (Society of Womxn in Product & Engineering) who are making the case for positive change.

Renata, who is responsible for the International, Strategy, and Planning teams and was recently voted into the top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology by the National Diversity Council, has also noticed an evolution of teams during her career. “I’ve been a part of very male-dominated teams and I’ve led teams that were totally male dominated, but today with Marqeta I have six direct reports and four of these are female.”

She believes that always showing up ready to work hard, a sincere interest in those around her, and willingness to be a mentor has led to her career success. Renata, who was recently promoted to the Executive team this year, would like to see other women make bold career moves. “I would like to see more women coming forward for promotion. This is more of a societal thing than a Marqetan one, but men do seem to be less fearless about demanding career progression and pay rises. We’re doing more to address this internally through mentorship and personal development programmes.

“I also want to support women back into the workplace after the pandemic. We’ve made so much progress as a society and a company in recent years and it’s vital that we do everything we can to prevent any kind of reversal that might arise out of the coronavirus,” she said.

Career progression is something we’ve touched on the previous two blogs, and there is a clear challenge around enrolling female students in STEM subjects. But all four women I’ve spoken to within Marqeta feel that while education is essential, careers are ultimately made by the level of interest and enthusiasm shown by each individual. The trick for organisations is to have the ability to spot this potential and provide the right kinds of access points.

Niteeka is Marqeta’s Director for Production Support Engineering, and as far as she’s concerned, the world of payments has many roles for people of all backgrounds. “You don’t need to be in STEM to make a difference. Capitalizing on your natural interests is a key to success. There are many startups empowering females to take on senior roles, and I would definitely say Marqeta is doing a great job in this regard.”

Steph agrees. “Being a woman in STEM is great, because I feel like I bring a different skill set and perspective to problems. I see one of my superpowers as connecting the dots and helping translate between technical and business organizations. While traditional STEM degrees are great for jobs in STEM, they are not the only path. Many of those skills can be acquired through other routes.”

Marqeta’s willingness to have uncomfortable conversations around progress is one of the things I value about Marqeta. While aware of its achievements, it’s never complacent — it’s the same approach Marqeta takes to product innovation. In bringing extraordinary women into leadership roles, what Marqeta has accomplished is cause for celebration. As Marqeta has grown as a company, it has added women in leadership roles, including the recent addition of tech veterans Amy Chang and Gerri Eliott to its board of directors.

And by giving me the space to write about it, I hope to continue the conversation that will lead to greater awareness and continued improvement of this issue.

Read part one of our females in fintech series here.

Read part two of our females in fintech series here.