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Women still underpresented at hedge fund and private equity firms - Preqin

Women are still underrepresented in the workforce when it comes to the hedge fund and private equity industries.

The percentage of women employed by hedge fund managers worldwide rose to 19.3% in February compared to 18.6% in October 2017, new data released Thursday by Preqin showed.

"Although an increase of less than 1 percentage point cannot be described as radical change, it does represent an improvement in the number of women being employed in the industry over the past 18 months," said Amy Bensted, Preqin's head of data products, in Preqin's hedge fund report.

Just 11% of women hedge fund employees hold senior positions, while 29% of junior positions are occupied by women, Preqin's analysis of its database of more than 280,000 alternative investment professionals showed.

Nearly half — 48% — of investor relations staffers at hedge fund firms are female. About 62% of such positions are junior level vs. 32% at the senior level.

Women are least represented on hedge fund portfolio management teams, holding just 10% of these jobs with 29% at the junior level and 4% of senior investment roles.

"What is particularly noticeable is that even in roles where women are best represented — client-facing investor relations roles — the proportion of roles that are held by women falls sharply at more senior levels, suggesting that women are not progressing at the same rate as men," Ms. Bensted said.

Preqin researchers also analyzed private equity positions in its alternative investment personnel database and found that the percentage of women working in the industry — 17.9% in February — has not budged since November 2017.

The percentage of women in the global private equity industry remained the lowest proportion among all alternative asset classes, Preqin data showed.

Like the hedge fund industry, 10% of senior private equity roles and 31% of junior positions were held by women. Women held a total of 53% of investor relations team positions with 63% in lower-level positions and 34% in higher positions.

A total of 13% of private equity investment positions were held by women with 22% at the junior level and 9% at the highest level.

In the private equity industry, women primarily hold investor relations jobs "while deal-side roles in investment teams are overwhelmingly held by men," Michelle Stern, senior vice president market development, noted in Preqin's report.

"There is a growing body of evidence showing that firms which employ more women in key decision-making roles have higher returns and lower risk," Ms. Stern said.

"This alone suggest that greater female representation should be a priority for the industry."