Closing the gender gap in fund management

It's no secret that women are vastly underrepresented in roles across nearly every industry. Fund management, in particular is one field where women are continuing to hold few senior-level roles, earn less than their male counterparts and comprise just a small percentage of all jobs.

By the numbers
Data from global investment research company Morningstar set out to explain why the lack of female representation in fund management is stark. It was previously found that for every nine male fund managers, there was just one female fund manager, Wealth Management reported. This gender gap is much greater than in the law and medical fields. While the number of male managers in the U.S. mutual fund industry has continued on a steady uphill trajectory since 1990, the number of female managers has remained relatively unchanged, after climbing slightly between 1990 and 2000.

"There are nearly 8 times as many males in the industry than women."

Today, there are nearly 8,000 male managers across the country, while the number of women in these roles has hovered at around 1,000, according to Wealth Management. 

Identifying the disparity
Now, a follow-up report from Morningstar attempts to explain the reason behind the numbers. Though the reason for the lack of female representation in the industry remains unclear, one thing is for sure: Performance is not to blame. Analyzing years of gender and performance in the industry, Morningstar concluded that women's returns were just as good as men's. If this is the case, then why is it that men have continued to advance in all new industry roles, while women have not been able to break through?

In studying portfolio managers' performance Morningstar concluded that there was no significant difference in male output to that which women could produce.

"Our results indicate that the low participation rate of women in the industry is not justified by performance," study authors concluded. "If men and women deliver similar performance, diversity comes with no downside for fund investors."

Several industry leaders have begun to make changes in the way of leveling the gender gap.Several industry leaders have begun to make changes in the way of leveling the gender gap.

Making moves to close the gap
Three major industry players in the U.K. have recently agreed to changes that may help modify the gender gap, though perhaps not entirely willingly. Deloitte's British division, Ernst & Young Global Limited and PricewaterhouseCoopers have concurred to update male and female pay statistics so that the data includes high-earning partners, Accounting Today reported. The skewed data released last year by Deloitte, for example, was misleading. Excluding high-earning partners, the original pay gap was listed at just 18.2 percent. 

The revised numbers now show that women at the firm earn a median of 43.2 percent less than their male peers, according to Accounting Today. The move toward more transparency is due largely, to pressure from a new U.K. mandate that all large companies provide data on male and female earnings by April 4.

"These calculations again serve as a stark reminder that we don't have enough women in senior roles - this is not about unequal pay, but the shape of our firm," said Emma Codd, managing partner for talent at Deloitte U.K.

Since the data published by Morningstar reveals no negative impact in promoting and hiring more women, the gender gap may start to level out in the coming years.

Take a dive into the existing gender gap in fund management.