Since late last year, the focus on gender imbalance in the workplace has seen heightened intensity. The #MeToo movement has helped to not only uncover egregious abuses, but also to inspire dialogue about gender inequality across industries.
Asset management is one of the least gender diverse industries in the U.S. Less than 10% of mutual fund and ETF portfolio managers are women, according to data from Morningstar.
The winners of this year's Money Management Executive Top Women in Asset Management Awards — among them managing directors, presidents, CEOs and COOs — are some of the strongest industry performers. Many of them are working to help other women thrive in a business in which they are such a clear minority.
Nicole Perkins, managing executive at Hawthorn, PNC Family Wealth, says: "The industry ... has a lot to learn and a long way to go in being a place for women and people of color."
Among the 25 largest U.S. mutual fund firms, Dodge & Cox has the highest number of women managers, representing 30%, according to data from The New York Times, Morningstar and research firm Flowspring. At the bottom of the list is MFS, with just 6%.
The dearth of women asset managers has no relationship to performance — men and women are equally competitive overall, a Morningstar report found, and some women-led funds outperform those led by men.
"If men and women deliver similar performance, diversity comes with no downside for fund investors," the study concluded. Yet men still overwhelmingly reap the rewards from the industry's growth.
Teri Shepherd, COO of the Carson Group, is among those seeking to shift that model. She launched the Women of Carson Group campaign in 2016 and has brought 25 female advisors on at the firm. "Women bring so much to the table and add balance, especially in the advisor role," she says.
Approximately 14% of financial advisors overall are women, according to research firm Cerulli.
Jenny Johnson, president of Franklin Resources, says her firm recently signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, which seeks to boost diversity within the workplace.
"While I can't point to specific instances where I have personally faced struggles — I've been very lucky in that regard — I understand the challenges of working in a largely male-dominated business, and I'm proud to be part of a company where gender diversity is a corporate-level priority," she says.
Christine Hurtsellers, CEO of Voya Investment Management, says she hopes to help women feel confident that there is a place for them in the industry.
"More than once, I felt overlooked based on a gender issue," she says. "I want my legacy to be that, within our industry, it's much easier for women today than what I experienced."
There are encouraging signs that fund managers are looking to shrink the gender gap. The New York Times report noted that some of the largest firms have committed to tackling their own gender imbalances.
What is also encouraging: the number of impressive awards submissions we received this year.
To select the winners — not an easy task — we used a nomination process that sought industry participation. Editors then reviewed candidate qualifications and deliberated extensively on their choices.
What follows is our list of 10 women who have made significant contributions to their firms and the industry as a whole.