The insurance industry must get better at ‘dispelling myths’, says chief executive and founder of Girls in Tech 

After experiencing corporate culture issues at a prior workplace - being the only female at a 35-strong company - Adriana Gascoigne decided to set up a global non-profit organisation called Girls in Tech.

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times, Gascoigne - who serves as the chief executive of Girls in Tech - explained that this previous experience made her feel like ”the odd woman out”. 

Insurtech 50 cover

This story appeared in the inaugural Insurance Times’ Insurtech 50 2023 report.

To read the full publication online, click here.

Therefore, when she founded Girls in Tech in 2007, the company initially operated as a networking event to connect Gascoigne with like-minded women who had faced similar situations.

She explained: “I wanted to create an environment where we could all come together, share ideas, network and really empower one another. Then it unravelled to become one of the largest women and technology organisations in the world.”

Girls in Tech now focuses on supporting women’s career development, job placement and education, which includes advanced skills building.

Gascoigne feels this support is particularly relevant for the insurtech sector - despite technology now being ”ubiquitous”, she believes there is still a dearth of female talent in insurance and technology jobs.

This view is reinforced by business data firm Crunchbase, which reported in 2020 that only 11 investments in female led insurtechs were made that year – this equates to just 4.2% of the 262 insurtech investments that were completed in 2020.

Meanwhile, a September 2020 report published by Accenture and Girls Who Code - entitled Resetting tech culture: Five strategies to keep women in tech - found that the number of women in technology roles has declined over the past 35 years, with around 50% of the women who take on a technology job dropping out by the age of 35.

Gascoigne continued: “We started building out programming and creating [a] curriculum in Silicon Valley, then launching it around the world.”

Girls in Tech operates across 50 cities - including London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Kuwait - in 40 countries and six continents. It has more than 200,000 active members.

Gascoigne hopes Girls in Tech will have a big impact this year, thanks to a host of closely guarded new programmes and products that the business currently has in the works. 

Dispelling myths  

In March 2022, Girls in Tech teamed up with global management consulting firm McKinsey and Company to publish a report - entitled Repairing the broken rung on the career ladder for women in technology roles - which explored the barriers women in technology job roles experience. 

The research - which interviewed 40 candidates in early tenure technology roles - found that many women were not progressing into mid-level technology jobs, but were instead leaving the industry due to not getting the promotions and pay rises they thought they deserved.

For Gascoigne, there are several factors that hold women back from applying for technology and insurtech jobs.

She explained: “There’s a lack of information or exposure to opportunities. [Insurtech is viewed as] this mythical industry that people hear [about] through word of mouth.

”[However,] companies are being held to a higher standard and they are more accountable now because their employees are speaking out in terms of equal pay or parity in the workforce.”

Additionally, organisational culture should display a “certain code of ethics to make sure that people are productive, healthy and comfortable in work environments”, Gascoigne added. To this end, Girls in Tech is encouraging its partners to be advocates of this type of workplace culture and hold themselves accountable.

“We need to a better job at dispelling myths,” Gascoigne emphasised.

”Maybe insurtech isn’t as appealing to women. I feel like a greater understanding of what goes on within your day-to-day working life can help encourage [a] younger generation of women to work in technology [or insurtech] – industries that are bit nebulous.”