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More Women In Assets But Senior Levels Lag

December 26th, 2019

Women in alternative assets are rare. Not quite 1 in 5 employees at all levels are women. At the senior leadership level, the percentage across all sectors falls to just under 12%, with real estate having the lowest share of female executives at 8.5%.

Preqin recently released a preview of its forthcoming report, Women in Alternative Assets 2020, which, the research firm said, "does show some encouraging trends in the data, suggesting that initiatives to improve inclusion and global conversations on gender equality may well be having an impact."

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Change, however, has been slow since Preqin's last workforce analysis in 2017. Since finding 18.8% of the alternatives workforce was female, Preqin's latest count shows a 0.9 point increase to 19.7%. At junior levels -- analyst and associate positions among them -- the share of women is significantly higher, ranging from 26.7% in hedge funds to a high of 36.3% in venture capital.

Skewing the percentages lower is the dropoff of women in mid-level and senior roles.

Venture capital emerged as having the highest percentage of women in these positions: 29.9% at mid-level and 13.4% in senior positions.

Aisling Keane, senior managing director at the investment firm State Street, offered some advice for women who aspire to a career in alternatives. In an interview with Preqin published last week, she said, "Don’t hold back. If you’re going in for the right reasons – that it seems like a good fit for what you like to do – don’t be shy about leaning in. Be prepared to volunteer for that project, to commit fully – and also to claim your seat at the table."

And find a mentor or more than one. The mentor doesn't have to be an executive, she said, "Just someone who you get on well with and who has struggled with the same challenges you’re going to face at the different stages of your career and personal life."

Keane says the industry has made progress in recognizing the value of diversity. "There's a lot more awareness of the incredible results that we can unlock by giving everyone an equal chance to develop to their full potential." "Not just women,"she added, "We need the talent drawn from all different spectrums and walks of life and, more importantly, the diversity of opinion that comes with building diverse teams and management structures. That’s how you compete in a fast-moving and diverse world."

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