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Less Than 1 in 5 Employees in Alt Investment Industry Are Women: Preqin

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Add the alternative assets industry to those that are getting a hard look at the gender imbalance in their workforces.

Alternatives data provider Preqin reports that women represent 18.8% of employees in the alternatives industry as a whole, with private equity having the lowest representation at 17.9%.

A 2015 study showed that only 11.7% of women held leadership positions in the private equity industry.

The rate at which women are represented in the alternatives industry varies widely by role, and consistently declines according to seniority, Preqin’s research shows.

Junior employees comprise the highest proportion of women in the alternatives industry, 29% of the workforce. However, in each asset class the representation of women falls as responsibilities increase, to 23% of midlevel staff and 10.5% of senior staff.

Here’s what the situation looks like, broken down by seniority and asset class:

Private equity

  • Junior – 26%
  • Midlevel – 22%
  • Senior – 9%

Venture capital

  • Junior – 36%
  • Midlevel – 29%
  • Senior – 11%

Hedge funds

  • Junior – 26%
  • Midlevel – 21%
  • Senior – 11%

Real estate

  • Junior – 36%
  • Midlevel – 24%
  • Senior – 10%


  • Junior – 33%
  • Midlevel – 22%
  • Senior – 10%

Natural resources

  • Junior – 30%
  • Midlevel – 22%
  • Senior – 11%

Private debt

  • Junior – 27%
  • Midlevel – 22%
  • Senior – 11%

In the new research, Preqin reported that women were best represented on investor relations/marketing teams, making up an average 45% across all asset classes and as high as 53% at venture capital firms.

In contrast, the rate of women on investment teams is much smaller, ranging from 18% at natural resources firms to 10% at hedge funds.

The proportion of women sitting on the boards of directors at alternative assets firms is even lower: 4.7% across the industry and down to 3.9% in real estate.

The study was based on an analysis of 200,000 contacts at alternative assets firms known to Preqin, across all asset classes. Administrative or support staff were not included in the research.

“The low representation of women at alternative assets firms is an issue that has seen increasing attention over recent years,” Preqin’s head of hedge fund products Amy Bensted said in a statement.

Bensted said that in a traditionally a male-dominated industry, “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.”

Moreover, she said, although 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 sharply contrasts 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.”

A survey released in January showed that although women believed it was harder for them than for men to raise capital for an investment vehicle, many remained undaunted and planned to roll out or manage a new fund in the next five years.

— Check out Companies With Female Leaders Outperform: ThirtyNorth on ThinkAdvisor.