Guest comment: How to make it (or not) as a woman in hedge funds

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An (anonymous female) contributor explains why there aren't more women in hedge funds.

I don't have a finance background - I grew up in the country and started out as a trader bidding grain before moving into financial arbitrage. From there I went to Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns as a prop trader before setting up with a colleague in 1998: it was incredibly difficult to get people to put money into that fund. There are plenty of women in the hedge fund industry, but very few who are trading - really taking risks.

I now run a fund of funds as well as an agricultural fund; as a woman, it's hard to raise money for that too. I think it's something buried deep in the subconscious - there's something that prevents people from being totally comfortable about signing their money over to a woman - there are a lot of negatives that are applied. With a man, for example, you might dismiss something as a bad day; with a woman it's seen as a sign of instablility. Women aren't seen as risk takers; somewhere buried deep in the psychology is the notion that people don't trust us with their cash.

From my own perspective, I don't want to be seen as a 'woman' in hedge funds - I just want to be seen as a good manager. My advice to women starting out in hedge funds is: don't take it personally if our culture still has some difficulties. There are plenty of successful and very beautiful women in sales, but if you want to be a trader, don't take it personally - any prejudice is not aimed at you directly; maintain your integrity and excel on your own merits.

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