To coincide with International Women’s Day, Preqin looks at female representation in private equity firms and how this has changed since 2017.
Women represent 18% of employees in the private equity industry in 2019*. This is not only the lowest proportion of any alternative asset class, but is unchanged from Preqin’s last analysis of the industry in November 2017.
Globally, women hold a far greater proportion of junior roles at private equity firms (31%) than mid-level (22%) or senior (10%) roles. Of the women employed in senior roles at private equity firms, 25% hold the position of CFO, 8% are CIOs and 6% are board members.
Women are primarily employed in investor relations/marketing roles, accounting for 53% of employees globally. However, even within investor relations/marketing teams, women are far more likely to be in junior (63%) than senior positions (34%). Investment teams have the lowest rate of female representation, with only 13% of positions at private equity firms being held by women – the contrast is even more stark at senior level, with women only accounting for just 9% of the investment team.
Representation of women at private equity firms is broadly similar across all regions; women account for 17% of employees at both North America- and Rest of World-based firms, and Europe stands at 19%. Only private equity firms based in Asia employ more than one in 10 women at a senior level. Among the major hubs, women account for 14% of senior employees at firms located in both China and Hong Kong, while for both US- and UK-based firms the proportion is 10%. South Korea-based firms have the lowest representation of women in senior roles at just 4%.
It is particularly striking that women still hold fewer than one in five private equity jobs, and that that proportion has remained unchanged since 2017. Although women hold far fewer senior deal-making positions than men, there is a growing body of evidence showing that firms employing more women in key decision-making roles have higher returns and lower risk. This alone suggests that greater female representation should be a priority for the industry.
*These figures are based on analysis of more than 280,000 industry professionals on Preqin’s database, including 67,000 private equity professionals. For more detailed analysis of these figures by role, seniority and location, please take a look at our recently released Women in Private Equity factsheet.