When it comes to investment performance, gender, it seems,
From January 2000 through May 31, 2009, women who ran hedge
funds delivered nearly double the investment performance of
their male counterparts. Female managers produced average
annualized returns of 9 percent, versus 5.82 percent for the
men, according to Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research, which
tabulated the data for the New Yorkbased National Council
for Research on Women (click here to download a PDF of the
report, Women In Fund
It also appears that women are better in a crisis at
least the most recent one. In 2008 funds run by female managers
were down just 9.6 percent, compared to a 19 percent drop for
Those who study the link between gender and investment
prowess say risk management is key to the success of female
money managers. "Its not that women are averse to risk,"
notes organizational behavior expert Judi McLean Parks, an Olin
Business School professor at Washington University in St.
Louis. "Its just that they are less likely to take the
Andrea Feingold, co-head of Boston-based Feingold
OKeeffe, which has $1.3 billion in distressed assets
under management, concurs. "When dealing with things like
distressed securities, liquidity risk is paramount," she says.
"Its a hidden risk, and when it surfaces it can be
crushing. Rather than looking at it as a limiting factor, we
look at it as integrated into the investment process." The
firms distressed-loan fund was down just 6.5 percent in
The performance stats wont change the gender balance
overnight, but they do bolster arguments by those who say that
Wall Street as a whole could stand an extra shot of estrogen.
"This is the road map to financial stability overall," contends
Jacquelyn Zehner, the first woman trader to be made a partner
at Goldman, Sachs & Co. (in 1996). Indeed, research has
shown that womens work habits can pay off. "Women tend to
be the people who reach across boundaries; they are better at
team building," says Theresa Welbourne, a research professor at
the University of Southern Californias Center for
Effective Organizations at the Marshall School of Business.
Superior returns aside, Zehner, a former board member of the
NCRW, asserts, "I firmly believe if we had more women in
financial management, we might not have experienced such a
severe financial crisis."