Linda Zhang started managing money in 2003. At the time, a little more than 1 in 10 portfolio managers were women. Almost two decades later, that number has barely changed.
Women made up about 14% of the 25,000 portfolio managers globally who run fixed income, equity, and asset allocation mutual and exchange-traded funds as of Dec. 31, unchanged from 2000, according to Morningstar Inc. In the U.S. about 11% are female, a share that has held constant over the past decade and is down from 14% in 2000.
“Our industry hasn’t changed that much,” says Zhang, who thought the numbers were low back in 2003. “I was managing a multi-asset mutual fund at one point, and I had over $2 billion under my management. I just saw there were very few women analysts and even fewer portfolio managers.” Today, after a career at asset managers including the giant BlackRock Inc. and MFS Investment Management, she’s the founder and chief executive officer of New York-based Purview Investments.
The statistics haven’t budged despite years of initiatives to advance women across industries. In recent years, more women have taken jobs in investment research—a path that typically leads to fund management—and some have even climbed to the top executive ranks of their business. Mixed-gender management teams are now common, accounting for almost 40% of assets under management, Morningstar data show.
But portfolio manager is one of Wall Street’s marquee jobs, and the people who hold it are key decision-makers in how capital gets allocated across the economy. The persistent imbalance in that role is glaring.
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