, Salem, MA


February 2, 2013

Column: Women are making gains in finance


Last November, the online broker TD Ameritrade released a survey of female investors in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada that found “the majority of self-directed women investors feel they’ve been successful at closely matching or outperforming the markets over the last two years.”

Among its U.S. respondents, 81 percent “say they’ve consistently outperformed or performed close to the market over the last two years.”

So we have two recent surveys showing that women are making strides as individual and as institutional investors. Why, then, are women still rarely appointed to Wall Street’s very top jobs?

It seems very similar to the situation facing women in politics. Until quite recently, it was extremely difficult for women candidates for federal office to raise enough money to make credible runs for office. But that seems to no longer be the case.

“Studies generally show that women, especially those who become general election candidates, raise as much as men when they are of the same party and run in similar types of situations,” says a report released last year by Political Parity, a nonprofit organization that tracks women’s progress in elective office.

So money, which used to be a major problem for women candidates, is no longer much of an obstacle. The same track is being trod by women on Wall Street, but Wall Street is just slower to catch on.

That said, the pressure’s on. The glass ceiling holding back Wall Street women is starting to crack and is on its way to bursting open. As long as women hedge-fund managers can beat by big numbers the returns produced by other hedge funds, how long will it be before investors recognize this and switch funds? Not very long, I’m going to wager.


Bonnie Erbe, host of PBS’ “To the Contrary,” writes this column for Scripps Howard News Service. Email

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