It’s no secret that the world of finance skews heavily male. But when it comes to mutual funds, the disparity is particularly stark: Women make up just 9 percent of mutual fund managers.
The data, compiled in a recent paper by Morningstar Research Director Laura Pavlenko Lutton, are even worse when you consider funds with female leadership. Only 2 percent of mutual fund assets are managed solely by women.
The gender and ethnic diversity of financial services providers have attracted increasing attention in recent years. In 2013 the Government Accountability Office ran the numbers on the financial sector, finding that 72 percent of upper-level management positions were filled by men.
The industry has made overtures to remedying the situation. Every major Wall Street bank’s website contains a page extolling diversity and inclusion -- though the numbers haven’t budged in recent years.
Last month, New York’s public pension custodian announced that the city would make gender and ethnic diversity crucial factors in picking new investment managers. In part, the decision was an economic one. Research shows women traders delivering higher returns -- particularly because men tend to take more unwise risks.
The Morningstar sample size for solely women-run funds was too small to draw definitive conclusions, but the data did show that funds with a mixed-gender leadership delivered marginally better returns than their male-only counterparts.
None of the largest fund companies sported balanced gender ratios. JPMorgan ranked high on the list, with women making up 13.6 percent of its mutual fund managers. T. Rowe Price and Wells Fargo came nearly last among the largest fund companies, with women taking less than 7 percent of top mutual fund positions. Mutual fund giant Fidelity came in just under the average, at 8.3 percent.
Compared with other finance careers, mutual fund managers fall on the more male side of the spectrum. Women make up just 11 percent of senior management in the top private equity firms. But that looks downright egalitarian compared with the hedge fund world, where only 3 percent of the top 9,000 funds are run by women.
As Lutton, the study’s author, pointed out, these data come as women take over a greater share of household investment decisions -- nearly 20 percent of women reported looking after their family’s retirement savings in 2013 -- and stake out a growing number of financial adviser careers.