Wall Street may not be the old boys club it once was, but breaking into the rarefied world of hedge funds is still easier for men than women.
That's the conclusion of a study of the class of investment banking analysts who joined major firms in the summer of 2012 and either stayed on or moved along after two years. The study, conducted by recruiting firm Vettery, covered 1,394 analysts—76 percent male and 24 percent female.
Vettery tracked the paths of all analysts in the group and found that men accounted for 88 percent of the analysts who landed hedge fund jobs. It used proprietary techniques with publicly available information to aggregate the data.
Men outnumbered women in another "buy side" category: private equity. Some 84 percent of analysts who went to private equity funds were men and 16 percent were women.
On the flip side, women had stronger representation on the "sell side" after two years. Females accounted for 31 percent of jobs at banks after two years versus 69 percent for men. While men still outnumbered women, females gained slightly in representation compared with the original blend of 76 percent men and 24 percent women.
The results echo a trend of male dominance across hedge funds in senior roles. While there are wildly successful women working at hedge funds across the world, they don't often get recognition. Some studies have shown women achieve outsized investment returns. A recent list of top 50 hedge fund managers was all male.
Why the male advantage? Alex Orn, Vettery's director of analytics, said the findings may have been a result of the specific roles women held at the investment banks where they worked.
Here's what that means: Departments at banks that tend to send a high percentage of their employees to the "buy side" such as M&A or technology don't hire as many women out of college. At the same time, those that hire more women, such as debt capital markets, equity capital markets and public finance, don't send as many analysts on to "buy side" jobs, Orn said.
There may also be an element of self-selection among female analysts. Orn said women may be interested in a wider variety of roles after banking, including technology start-ups, business development and strategy and business school.
"We see a lot more males actually interested in hedge funds, but regardless of that, it's extremely difficult for both males and females," he said.
Orn played down the idea that hedge funds don't recruit women. "Demand for qualified females is off the charts," he said, adding that hedge funds are focused squarely on whether candidates "love stocks" and "can make money."
Being male isn't the only thing that helps analysts land hedge fund jobs. Analysts from schools including University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth and Stanford account for a large number of those hired on the "buy side."
Other indicators of female presence at hedge funds reflect similar trends. At SumZero, a private network for "buy side" analysts, women account for less than 5 percent of total membership, according to COO Nicholas Kapur.
"Frankly, we'd like to see many more women enter the hedge fund industry as a percentage of the overall group," Kapur said. "We'd also like to see more of the nominally few women that are already in the industry participate within our community like their male counterparts have been for years."