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Private Equity’s Glass Ceiling for Women Is Still Intact, Study Finds

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Only 11.7% of leadership roles in the private equity industry are held by women, according to a study released Tuesday by Preqin, an alternatives data provider.

The study concluded that—true—women’s representation in the private equity sector had improved, but still languished “markedly low at 11.7%” of overall global proportion of leadership roles.

But the venture capital sector has made a notable improvement in the hiring of women to senior positions. A year ago, venture capital firms at 11.2% ranked behind infrastructure and real estate firms in the proportion of women holding the highest level of senior positions. In 2015, that proportion rose significantly to 14.8% to lead the other private equity strategies.

Infrastructure firms also saw a substantial rise in the proportion of women in high-level jobs, to 14% from 11.7% last year, and at real estate outfits, the proportion rose to 13.6% from 12.8%.

Buyout firms continued to lag, with just 10.5% of women employees in senior roles, up from 8.7% in 2014.

According to the study, Asia-based fund managers retained the highest proportional representation of women in high-level roles, currently 14.5%, up from 11.8% at the start of 2014.

In all regions, the proportion of women working in senior roles this year increased from a year earlier: to 13.7% from 11% in North America; to 12.4% from 9.7%; and 11.1% from 10% in the rest of the world.

Preqin found that the proportion of women holding senior roles increased as the size of the firm grew. Women accounted for 9.7% of upper-level employees in firms with five or fewer senior employees in 2015, compared with 13.9% for ones with 20 or more senior personnel.

“Underrepresentation of women in private equity remains an issue acknowledged by the industry, and organizations across the world continue pushing for change,” the report said.

– Check out Invesment Advisor magazine’s October cover story: Seen and Heard: Get the Word Out to Get Women in the Industry