At Institutional Investors and CNBCs Delivering
Alpha conference, Systematica Investments CEO
Leda Braga observed that when she started working at London
hedge fund BlueCrest Capital Management, she was 34 weeks
pregnant, as Institutional Investors
Tom Buerkle tweeted.
Braga also said that rumor had it that when BlueCrest
managers interviewed her, they failed to notice her pregnancy
an anecdote that illustrates the obliviousness of some
quants. But her story caught my attention for another reason.
When Braga launched her firm earlier this year, London-based
Systematica became one of the rare hedge funds run by a
A 2009 study by New Yorkbased not-for-profit National
Council for Research on Women, now called Re:Gender, found that
women-led hedge fund firms made up only 3 percent of managers.
The number of women investment professionals in hedge funds is
similarly tiny. The male-female imbalance persists despite the
fact that hedge funds often claim to be meritocracies.
The observation that the hedge fund industry lacks gender
diversity is hardly new. My colleague
Fran Denmark wrote a feature on women hedge fund investors
before the financial crisis. Recently, as the issue of women in
the workplace has become a popular topic, the hedge fund
industrys lack of women has come up more often.
As I was researching this years
Hedge Fund Rising Stars, our annual list of 30 hedge fund
up-and-comers, I hunted for eligible female portfolio managers,
but the effort was disheartening. In what is a very tough hedge
fund start-up environment, Systematica was one of the few hedge
fund firms, if not the only one, launched in the past 18 months
with a woman in charge.
I wanted to find the reasons for this and explore some
solutions, so I reached out to some influential women. Among
them: Afsaneh Beschloss, CEO of Washington-based fund of funds
Rock Creek Group; Nadine Terman, CEO of San Francisco hedge
fund firm Solstein Capital; and Katherine Chan, a partner at
the New Yorks Anandar Capital Management. These three
come from different backgrounds and are at different points in
their careers. All three are respected, successful and have
made it a point to further the cause of women in alternative