Historically, insurtech has been considered a male domain – but how are emerging technologies opening up opportunities for women to progress their careers?

In the run up to this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 2024, I was inundated with calls.

Why? Historically, there has always been a lack of women employed in senior positions in the insurtech sector. 

Clare Ruel

Clare Ruel 

Back in November 2022, I wrote a thought leadership piece spotlighting this topic – but two years later and post-pandemic, the situation should have shifted, right?

Wrong. The insurtech sector is still struggling to attract females and ethnic minorities into senior positions such as chief executive or founder.

Data published by specialist employment law firm GQ Littler on 18 December 2023 revealed that women make up less than 7% of chief executives in the insurance industry, while 29 out of 431 insurance top bosses are female.

Why are these senior roles still thought of as a man’s game? Is there more to it?

Karen Barretto, who has been deputy chief executive of Stubben Edge Group since 2018, told me that the issue stems from the idea that technology is typically thought of as a male interest. 

She said: “There is a barrier to entry in bringing females into insurtech and financial services as a whole.

“With insurtech – certainly when it first started – there was this perception [that] because it was so heavily reliant on technology, it was an area where most females would not see themselves naturally.”

Barretto explained that many females struggle with career progression unless they can picture themselves in a position of seniority.

Women of colour

Barretto believes that taking more “action” is key to solving the female underrepresentation issue across the insurtech sector.

This includes education, as well as talking more openly about the subject.

Intertwined in this issue is also the underrepresentation of female ethnic minorities in insurtech’s most senior roles.

Barretto continued: “More people are willing to talk about inequality in terms of female representation when it pertains to women who are not of colour. When [women of colour experience] success, there’s [often] women who are not of colour in senior positions. Women of colour are still severely underrepresented.”

Barretto, who identifies as having a mixed ethnicity, refers to herself as a “woman of colour”.

She was born in London and her parents are from Kenya, but she also has a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish heritage. While she found this combination challenging when growing up, now she believes she can “sit in any environment and converse”.

Barretto noted that developing soft skills – such as communication, teamwork and adaptability – building a network and having a mentor are all important to combat minority underrepresentation because these tools help individuals to build “confidence”.

Emerging opportunities

There are definite benefits to having women of all ethnicities on companies’ boards.

For Nataly Maimari, head of artificial intelligence (AI) and data at insurtech Insurwave, this is because “thoughts and ideas from multiple different viewpoints are pulled [upon]”.

Maimari added that emerging technologies – such as AI – can provide a plethora of career opportunities for women.

She said: “In the coming years, there’s going to be a lot of opportunities opening up – there has been deliberate efforts to empower women to go into AI roles.”


As an ethnic minority female that has written about the insurtech market since joining Insurance Times in July 2018, I would argue that the situation has improved somewhat. 

For example, as of March 2024, Stubben Edge Group has around 50% female representation within its business – although Barretto is the only woman of colour. Likewise, insurtech Ticker achieved 50% of its senior positions being held by women in October 2021.

Meanwhile, next month Luisa Barile will succeed Steven Mendel as group chief executive of insurtech MGA ManyPets.

The growing number of sucessful female ethnic minority senior leaders in insurtech – like Barile, Barretto, Maimari, Jodi Cartwright, chief commercial officer of Tint Financial Services, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, chief executive and founder of Tapoly, and Megan Bingham-Walker co-founder and chief executive of Anansi – are further proof of a change in direction.

Let’s also not forget the appointment of trade body Insurtech UK’s first female chief executive, Melissa Collett. 

Senior roles in AI present just one opportunity to increase female and ethnic minority representation in the insurtech sector – but there’s also ripe opportunities in areas such as automation, blockchain, no code, embedded insurance and the Internet of Things. 

However, further action needs to be taken to shift the narrative away from the stereotype that insurtech is a man’s game.