Just under one in five investment fund employees are female

Women represent only 19 percent of staff in the alternative investment industry. Among senior staff only 11 percent are women, a study by Preqin shows.

The rate varies depending on the role and declines according to seniority. The highest proportion of women is among junior employees, where they account for 29 percent of the workforce. Women are most represented in investor relations and marketing teams, as high as 53 percent at venture capital firms.

In contrast, the share of women is much small in investment teams, a figure that goes as low as 10 percent at hedge funds.

The board of directors for an average alternative assets fund, meanwhile, only comprises a mere 5 percent of female members.

Amy Bensted, head of Hedge Fund Products at Preqin says the low representation of women at alternative assets firms is an issue that has seen increasing attention over recent years.

“Traditionally a male-dominated industry, the proportion of female employees across the industry is significantly less than 50 percent, with only investor relations teams in some asset class 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,” she noted.

“Beyond this, what is most striking is that even where women are well-represented among junior staff, this 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,” she said.

“This contrasts sharply with institutional investors; 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, and this issue will continue to be closely monitored by commentators and industry bodies over the coming years,” Bensted concluded.

Globally the overall rates of women in the industry varied only from 16 percent to 23 percent by region and asset class.

Two years ago, Joan Solotar, then Head of External Relations and Strategy at Blackstone, highlighted the problem of the talent pool potentially being too small: “Out of the roughly 1,000 applicants applying to the associate position, only about 100 were women. How are you going to get to 30 percent if only 10 percent of applicants are women?”

For its Women in Alternative Assets Report, Preqin used a database of over 200,000 industry professionals to highlight the trends in the workforces of active fund managers and investors.