Where Are the Women Fund Managers?

A Morningstar study published last year found that in the U.S. women run a measly 2% of the mutual fund industry’s assets, reports an article in last week’s Barron’s.

The initial goal of the study was to analyze whether female money managers invest differently than men. However, the team found that there wasn’t enough data to draw from, says Laura Lutton, director of manager research at Morningstar and a co-author of the study.

Academic research has shown that women, on average, are “better investors than men,” the article says. A separate study conducted in 2001 by professors at the University of California–that examined trading data on 35,000 individual investors– found that women are generally more conservative and effect fewer trades than men. “It isn’t that men’s decisions were significantly worse,” one of the professors argued, “it’s just that they made those bad decisions much more often.”

The Barron’s article emphasizes, “It’s essential, then, that we’re skeptical of any claim that one gender is more skilled in one area than another. But that skepticism is exactly why investors and financial professionals should be concerned that roughly 90% of fund managers are men. That figure simply can’t be based on skill.”