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Fund-Manager Gender Gap Persists

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Despite the growing number of mutual funds and ETFs, the percentage of female portfolio managers hasn’t changed in twenty years. At the end of 2019, 14% of fund managers were women, the same percentage as in 2000, according to a new report from Morningstar, based on a global database of more than 25,000 fund managers.

“The gender gap is a chasm in the fund industry,” writes Laura Lallos, senior mutual fund analyst at Morningstar and author of the report, “Women in Investing: Morningstar’s View.” “The cause is likely a complicated combination of structural barriers and implicit biases. But it has nothing to do with ability.”

A 2018 Morningstar study of fund manager performance found that women were “just as good as men at managing funds.” But their presence on corporate boards and in corporate management is more distinguished, generating stronger share price performance, according to reports from Credit Suisse.

Morningstar’s latest study on gender diversity in the fund industry found that the U.S. lagged other countries in female representation among fund managers. Just 11% of U.S. fund managers were women at the end of 2019 compared with more than 20% of fund managers based in Hong Kong, Singapore and Spain.

The percentage of U.S. female portfolio managers was higher for equity funds than bond funds but declined for both between 2000 and 2019: from 19.4% to 13.4% for active equity funds and from 13.2% to 10.7% for passive stock funds. Among U.S. bond funds overall, the percentage fell from 16% in 2000 to 11% in 2019. —Bernice Napach


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