More Women are Filling Senior Roles at Private Equity Firms—and Some are Raising Children at the Same Time

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A few more good women have been filling senior roles at private equity firms in North America and Europe over the past year—a trend that’s been more pronounced elsewhere around the globe, including Asia.

In North America, 9.2 percent of senior roles in private equity are held by women as compared with 8.9 percent a year earlier, says industry researcher Preqin, which covers alternative investing and has offices in New York, London and Singapore.

In Europe, 9.9 percent of top private equity titles are held by women as compared with 9.1 percent a year earlier, and as for the rest of the world including Asia, today’s figure is at 10.4 percent up from 8.7 percent last year, says a recent Preqin announcement.

Women are still a rare commodity in the private equity arena, particularly at the partner level, reports PE Hub, which observes that only about 10 percent of the investment professionals in the buyout industry are women—“a figure that is far lower than that in the workforce at large.”

On the other hand, the report states, this is a good time for women interested in breaking into the business:

“Conferences like the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit are making it easier to find mentors, to learn the trade and to build networks. Firms like the The Carlyle Group, which says 12 percent of its managing directors are women, seem intent on bringing more women into the firm and grooming them for executive positions. And some women say their gender helps them stand out and make an impact."

Women’s prominence in the field is also not only about location: “The proportion of senior roles filled by women in private equity firms does vary according to strategy,” says Preqin.

For instance, while “Real estate firms accounted for the largest proportion of senior female roles in 2011, infrastructure firms now lead the way.”

Based on Preqin’s information, women account for an average 13.5 percent and 12 percent of senior roles at infrastructure and real estate firms respectively. The proportions at venture and buyout firms are 9.7 percent and 6.9 percent respectively.

Women also account for an average 9.2 percent of the team at private equity firms of five or fewer senior employees, compared to 10.4 percent at firms of six to 10 employees, and 9.3 percent at private equity firms with 11 to 20 staffers and and 9.9 percent at firms with 21 or more staff members.

The data from Preqin’s comes from its online databases featuring profies of over 5,700 fund managers specializing in buyout, venture, mezzanine, distressed debt and other private equity investments.

Moreover, the Wall Street Journal reports, there are more and more women who find they’re able to balance a top-notch private equity career with raising a child:

“Just ask Raquel Palmer at KPS Capital Partners, Pam Hendrickson of The Riverside Company, Cathleen Ellsworth at First Reserve Corp., Andrea Kramer at Hamilton Lane or any of the small but growing ranks of women who have built successful private equity careers and also raised kids.”

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