Yale-Columbia study finds women investment pros face discrimination ​

Women had to be stellar performers to garner the same attention from investors as so-so men

Oct 24, 2017 @ 4:59 pm

By InvestmentNews

There's only one thing keeping women investment professionals from being judged equally with men: a man's name.

"We found that financial professionals are more likely to pay attention to investment recommendations when they think that the person offering the recommendation is a man," said Tristan Botelho, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management and co-author of a study conducted with the Columbia Business School.

The study, published in Administrative Science Quarterly, found that gender bias exists even in an industry where individuals and firms are extremely performance-minded.

Prof. Botelho and co-author Mabel Abraham, assistant professor of management at the Columbia Business School, collected data from a private online platform where investment professionals share recommendations to buy or sell a given stock. They examined 3,520 recommendations by 1,550 individuals from 2008 through 2013. The platform does not explicitly identify recommenders by gender, but one could infer from first names whether a recommender was likely to be a man or a woman, according to a release about the study from Yale University.

The web platform provided a two-stage evaluation process. In the first stage, users clicked on recommendations they were interested in learning more about. In the second, they evaluated the recommendation, rating it on a five-point scale and leaving comments.

The researchers found that recommendations submitted by people with typically female names, like Mary, received 25% fewer clicks than those submitted by individuals with typically male names, like Matthew. Recommendations from investment professionals with female names had to be high-performing in order to garner the same number of clicks as an average-performing recommendation from somebody with a typically male name.

The study also showed that self-disclosed men in their sample who had female-sounding names received fewer clicks than individuals with traditional male names.

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