Disappearing Women

How quickly things change—and not for the better.  In June, Fortune magazine reported that woman were “making strides” because a whopping 6.4% of CEOs were female.  As sad as that figure is, it just got much worse.  Avon recently announced that CEO Sheri McCoy will leave the 131-year-old cosmetics firm in March.  This news broke just one day Oreo and Cadbury owner Mondelez announced that its longtime CEO Irene Rosenfeld will give up the top spot at the company later this year.  Moreover, let us not forget that in June, Marissa Myers stepped down as the CEO of Yahoo (now known as Altaba).  Each of the CEO’s faced harsh criticism from activist shareholders during her tenure.  And so, for now, we are down to 5.8% female representation of woman in Fortune 500 companies.  Some strides.

Of course, the problem of underrepresentation is not limited to Fortune 500 companies. According to the 2017 Law360 Glass Ceiling Report, omen are 50.3 percent of current law school graduates, yet they still make up just under 35 percent of lawyers at law firms, Most important, their share of equity partnerships — where the highest compensation and leadership positions are lodged — remains at 20 percent and has not changed in recent years.

Similarly, according to the Hedge Fund Report, only 49 hedge funds managed by women are in the HFR index, or a mere 2% out of the 2,100 funds in the category.  This holds, despite the fact as reported in the Financial Times that the hedge funds led by women have outperformed a broader benchmark of alternative investment managers over the past five years, raising the question of why there are still so few female portfolio managers. HFRI Women Index produced a profitability of 4.4% over the past five years – higher than the 4.2% from the HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index, a more extensive barometer of hedge fund performance across all strategies and for both genders.

Reams of articles have been written on this problem and myriad solutions have been suggested.  The data suggested that nothing is working thus far.  Women continue to vanish from the scene to the detriment of all.