Where are the women of private equity?

As we ask every year, where are the women in alternative investments?

Not head of their own firms or even chief investment officers. Women typically can be found in operational, finance or compliance roles, according to the “Women in Alternative Investments: A Marathon, Not a Sprint” report from consulting firm Rothstein Kass.

Women historically have taken more supportive roles– more CFO or COO-oriented – at hedge funds, private equity and venture capital firms, said Kelly Easterling, principal-in-charge of Rothstein Kass’ Walnut Creek, Calif. office.

“While extraordinarily important, these aren’t the groups that will ultimately be running portfolios and making investment decisions,” Easterling said.

Rothstein Kass spoke to 440 senior women in alternative investments to compile its third annual report. Respondents came from hedge funds, private equity funds, fund-of funds and PE fund sponsors, as well as venture capital firms. Large and small firms were equally represented. About 70 percent of the women that took part had 11 or more years experience in the financial services industry, according to Rothstein Kass.

The data breaks out like this: Nearly 40 percent of those questioned held C-level jobs within the financial suite (think CFO and COOs), while 38.1 percent were in compliance (CCO). Another one-third, or 34.3 percent, had jobs in operations (COO).

Only 17.2 percent of those polled were CEOs, while 22.5 percent were CIOs/portfolio managers.

Women were more likely, at 23.2 percent, to be CEOs at hedge funds, while venture capital firms were least likely, at just 9.7 percent, to have a woman CEO.

The data is more gloomy when Rothstein Kass looked at investment committees. A meager 3 percent of respondents from PE firms said their firm’s investment committee comprised 50 percent or more women.

Despite the negative data, more women, at 17.5 percent, want to manage their own funds. That’s up from 14.2 percent last year.

Women also continue to be better managers, the Rothstein Kass study found.

Women-owned or managed funds outperformed other funds in 2012, returning 14.8 percent. By comparison, Cambridge Associates U.S. Private Equity Index returned 13.8 percent.

“You see how well women manage their funds,” Easterling said. “The frustration of the women is that even though they have better track records, it takes longer for them to raise assets.”

Still, more than two-thirds of investors, or 73.5 percent, expect allocations to women-owned or managed funds to remain the same in 2014. About one-quarter, or 24.5 percent, expect allocations to increase somewhat this year, Rothstein Kass found.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock