Fund managers by gender. Source: Morningstar Fund managers by gender. Source: Morningstar

On Thursday, International Women’s Day, Morningstar released a report showing that women today account for just under 11% of the managers of actively managed mutual funds, and that percentage is lower now than it was in 1990.

Since 1990 the number of actively managed stock and bond mutual funds grew fivefold from 1,900 to 8,500, and men captured 85% to 90% of those new portfolio manager jobs, according to Morningstar.

Its research report sought to find out if performance was the deciding factor.

“If women fund managers have delivered worse returns than men, their exclusion from the industry would be understandable,” write the researchers. But they found that has not been the case.

They compared the performance of female and male fund managers from January 2003 to September 2017 using several different tests, and the results were generally the same. Female-run equity funds did not underperform their male-run counterparts in any statistically significant way, if at all, but they did clearly outperform male-run bond funds.

In its Fama-MacBeth regression test, for example, Morningstar found that actively managed equity funds run by all-male teams slightly outperformed funds in the same Morningstar category, but the difference was not statistically significant.

In contrast, actively managed bond funds run by all-female teams outperformed their Morningstar category by 0.32% annually, or 4.23% over the 14-year-plus period. Moreover, most of the outperformance by women-led bond funds occurred during the financial crisis and the past three years.

Despite this outperformance, only 14 bond funds are managed by women today compared with 47 at the end of 2004, according to Morningstar.

In another set of tests, based on equal-weighted portfolios, the Morningstar researchers found that among actively managed equity funds, portfolios managed by a team of men outperformed portfolios managed by a team of women, but both teams bested the performance of solo male managers.

Among fixed income funds, the outperformance shifted. Sometimes female teams bested the male teams, and sometimes the opposite was true; the differences were minimal. But both teams again outperformed solo male managers.

The Morningstar analysis studied a total of roughly 13,000 unique managers and 11,200 unique funds, but the monthly manager and fund counts were much lower, around 3,800 for managers and between 3,600 and 6,400 funds.