When Will We See More Gender Equality in Investing?

Image by   Tim Gouw

Image by Tim Gouw

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by Karen Firestone

In many spheres, such as politics, media and entertainment, women have made considerable progress in reaching executive leadership positions, achieving higher pay, and building new enterprises. But this ascent hasn’t been achieved everywhere. In my own industry, investing, progress has been painfully slow.

Aside from professional sports, the investment business — encompassing investment management, mutual, hedge, private equity, and venture capital funds — might have the lowest percentage of women at the top of the pyramid (at 4%). And women only control between 1% and 3.5% of assets under management, depending on specific class.

The lack of women leaders in investing is an issue that more firms should be worried about. Research shows that gender diversity at the top is connected to positive returns. And aside from financial performance, retaining and promoting more women in a field is the only way to ensure that promising talent isn’t being lost or shuffled out of the industry.

There is little good data on how many women are entering investment firms at junior levels, as research analysts and associates. But in researching the subject, I’ve learned from colleagues at several large firms in the U.S. that women have accounted for about one-quarter to one-third of their first-year associates over the past fifteen 15 years.

However, as several senior executives in the industry explained to me, and as I have witnessed in my decades in the business, the ranks of women investors dwindle as you go up the career ladder…

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