Preqin: 19% Of Alternative Asset Industry Employees Are Female

Oct 12 2017 | 9:58pm ET

Nearly one in five employees at alternative investment firms are female, according to new research from industry data specialist Preqin, with representation varying widely by role. 

The highest representation was in IR/marketing roles and as few as one in ten on hedge fund investment teams, Preqin’s research showed, and it declines consistently with seniority. The highest proportion is seen among junior employees, at 29% of the workforce, while 11% of overall senior alternative assets staff is female. 

In the same way, women are best represented in investor relations/marketing teams, as high as 53% at venture capital firms. The rate of women in investment teams is much smaller, as low as 10% at hedge funds. The board of directors for an average alternative assets fund, meanwhile, only comprises 5% female members.

The findings were contained in Preqin’s latest annual review of women in the alternative assets industry. Other key highlights:

  • Women constitute an industry-wide average of 18.8% of alternative assets fund management staff. 
  • Representation varies by asset class, from 17.9% among private equity firms to 20.6% at venture capital firms. 

  • Across all asset classes, the proportion of female employees falls according to seniority. Women make up 29% of junior alternative assets staff, but 23% of mid-level staff and 11% of senior staff. 

  • Fifty-three percent of IR staff at venture capital firms and 50% at private equity firms are women, with representation in other asset classes in the forties. 

  • By contrast, in almost all asset classes, investment teams have the smallest proportion of women. Representation ranges from 18% at natural resources firms to 10% at hedge funds. 

  • Among senior staff, the average proportion of female employees does not rise above the 11% seen at venture capital firms. Private equity has the lowest rate of senior women, at 9%. 

  • This is mirrored in the proportion of women sitting on the boards of directors at alternative assets firms. Across the industry, 5% of firm directors are women. 

“The low representation of women at alternative assets firms is an issue that has seen increasing attention over recent years,” noted Amy Bensted, head of hedge fund products for Preqin, in a statement. “Traditionally a male-dominated industry, the proportion of female employees across the industry is significantly less than 50%, with only investor relations teams in some asset classes approaching or surpassing a rate of equal representation. 

“It is notable that women are best represented in client-facing or finance roles, while the deal making and operations teams are the most male-dominated,” Bensted continued. “Beyond this, even where women are well-represented among junior staff, [it] is not translating to more women in senior roles. The disparity in the rates of junior and senior female staff shows that progression through the industry remains rarer for women than for men." 

The lack of female representation among senior staff at alternative investment managers contrasts sharply with that of institutional investors, Bensted added. For instance, women constitute one in five senior staff at public pensions and more than one in three at foundations. “The industry has some way to go before achieving true parity between genders,” Bensted observed, predicting that the issue will remain closely monitored by commentators and industry bodies over the coming years.

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