Under-representation of women spans entire private investment spectrum


WPEN infographic thumbThe gross under-representation of women in private equity is nothing new, but newly-collated data suggests the problem extends far further throughout the private investment industry than previously thought.

An infographic produced by the Women’s Private Equity Network (which is supported by AltAssets) shows women are losing out to men across the private investment spectrum.

Research has long shown that women are badly represented in terms of GPs, with a 2011 report by the NVCA and Dow Jones suggesting women make up just 11 per cent of US venture capital investors.

Data released this year by Preqin shows an identical figure for senior women within private equity. But the problem is not limited to the industry’s buyout and VC firms.

A study from the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research revealed that just 19 per cent of entrepreneurs backed by angel investors are women, despite increasing efforts being made within business to bring gender representation onto a more even keel.

An earlier research report by Dow Jones, “Women at the Wheel”, suggested just 1.3 per cent of venture capital-backed companies had a female founder, while only 6.5 per cent had a woman as CEO.

The same study revealed that 80 per cent of venture-backed companies failed to field a single woman on their board of directors.

Related services within the industry are not exempt from the bias, with women making up just 12 per cent of senior lawyers working with private equity according to Chambers Global.

Female employees in investment banking and securities totalled just 35 per cent of all employees according to research conducted in 2011 by Catalyst.org and the US Equal Opportunity Commission, with just 15.6 per cent at the management and senior executive level.

LPs concerned about environmental, social and governance issues are already putting pressure on PE and VC firms to think about the ethical impact of their day-to-day dealmaking, and gender representation within the industry is sure to come under the spotlight.

The wider business community has taken steps to change this discrepancy, and private equity needs to move fast to make sure it does not get left behind.

See the Women’s Private Equity Network infographic here.

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