According to Preqin, venture capital firms have made a notable improvement in the hiring of women in senior positions. Almost 15% of senior positions at these firms are held by women, compared to 14.0% at infrastructure firms, 13.6% at real estate firms and only 10.5% at buyout firms. A year ago, venture capital firms ranked behind infrastructure and real estate firms, but ahead of buyout firms, and have seen the greatest improvement over the past year. Despite these positive steps, only 11.7% of leadership roles are held by women in the private equity industry as a whole.
From a geographical perspective, North America-, Europe- and Asia-based private equity firms all saw a 2.7 percentage point increase in the proportion of women in senior roles. Asia-based fund managers retain the highest proportional representation of women in high-level roles, currently at 14.5% up from 11.8% at the start of 2014. Managers based in regions outside North America, Europe and Asia have seen only a slight increase, with just over 11% of senior roles held by women.
In firms with five or fewer senior employees, women account for only 9.7% of these positions. This is an increase on 2014 but the figure is still lower than for all other firm sizes. Private equity firms with more than 20 high-level executives have an average of 13.9% of roles being held by women, compared to 11.9% the previous two years.
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Women in Private Equity: Geography
As in previous years, private equity firms based in Asia have the highest proportion of women in senior roles, with an average of 14.5% of high-level roles held by women, as shown in Fig. 1. In all regions, the proportion of women working in senior roles has increased. There was a 2.7 percentage point increase in North America, Europe and Asia. Rest of World-based private equity firms showed a small increase with 11.1% of high-level roles being held by women, compared to 10% in 2014.
Women in Private Equity: Strategy
Venture capital is the investment strategy with the highest proportion of women in senior level roles. The industry saw a significant rise from an average of 11.2% in 2014 to 14.8% this year, as shown by Fig. 2. Infrastructure firms also saw a substantial rise in the proportion of women in high-level jobs, up from 11.7% to 14%. Real estate and buyout firms also saw a rise in women in senior roles. Buyout firms continue to employ the lowest proportion of women in senior positions with just 10.5%.
Women in Private Equity: Firm Size
In firms with five or fewer people, women in senior positions account for only 9.7% of senior employees. This is an increase on 2014 but the figure is still lower than all other firm sizes. As Fig. 3 shows, the proportion of women holding senior roles increases as the size of the firm grows. Furthermore, for each range in the graph, the increase from 2014 rises as the number of senior employees does. Private equity firms with more than 20 high-level executives have an average of 13.9% of roles being held by women, compared to 11.9% the previous two years.
Collectively, these statistics highlight a continued improvement in the level of female representation in the industry, although the overall global proportion of leadership roles in private equity occupied by women remains markedly low at 11.7%. Under-representation of women in private equity remains an issue acknowledged by the industry and organizations across the world continue pushing for change.