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Women in Asset Management Are Confronting the Gender Gap

Morningstar analysts explore barriers and opportunities for women in the industry—and identify the top women leading funds across the world.


While the asset management industry has made strides toward inclusion, women are still underrepresented.

Globally, about one in eight fund managers is a woman. That ratio hasn’t meaningfully budged in over a decade, even as teams have grown, and more professionals have entered the field.

Here, we dig into some of the barriers and opportunities women in the asset management industry are facing.

How Many ETFs and Mutual Funds Are Managed by Women?

In 2022, women only made up about 12.5% of portfolio managers across US-domiciled active and passive funds. That total hasn’t meaningfully budged in the last 14 years. Out of roughly 10,000 allocation, equity, and fixed-income funds in the United States, less than 2% were led by exclusively female teams.

And the gender gap persists despite evidence that gender doesn’t correlate with investment performance.

Still, there are some positive signs of progress.

Women in asset management do play a prominent role in mixed-gender teams. Our study found that 26% of funds are led by a team that includes at least one woman. As a whole, the industry is moving away from the star manager approach toward teams with diverse skill sets.

However, there remains room for improvement. Amid the recent wave of asset manager layoffs, it’s important to consider that failure to attract more women into the industry can limit the talent pool for future firm leaders.

Who Are the Top US Women Leading Funds in Asset Management?

Morningstar’s People Pillar rating evaluates the overall quality of a strategy’s investment team. Our analysts look at who makes key decisions, available resources, and incentive pay structures that influence decision-making and team stability.

From there, analysts assess personnel across several themes.

  • Experience and ability.

  • Fit and structure.
  • Workload.
  • Communication and information flow.
  • Temperament.
  • Alignment of interests.
  • Key-person risk.
  • Team stability.

We highlight three key women fund managers that earn Above Average People ratings from Morningstar analysts. The list includes equity, fixed-income, and allocation fund managers.

Jean Hynes, Wellington

The first female CEO of Wellington Management Company, Hynes’ ability to take on the challenges of running a firm while continuing to lead a $46 billion fund demonstrates how integral she is to her firm and investors. In fact, her extensive experience has helped her build an impressive record on Vanguard Health Care VGHAX, a Wellington-subadvised fund that earns a Morningstar Medalist Rating of Silver.

Since Hynes leadership in 2013, the 12.8% annualized gain of the fund’s cheapest share class topped its primary prospectus benchmark MSCI ACWI Health Care Index’s 11.1% return and bested 61% of competitors in the health Morningstar Category. 

Line graph showing Vanguard Health Care VGHAX growth from December 2012 through June 2023 compared to Health Morningstar Category and MSCI ACWI Health Care Index.

Janet Rilling, Allspring

With 28 years of investment experience, Rilling now serves as Allspring’s head of the plus fixed-income team. She was also named a portfolio manager of Allspring Core Plus Bond STYJX in 2008, which earns a Silver rating on its cheapest share class.

The portfolio’s results speak for themselves: Over Rilling’s tenure through January 2024, the fund’s cheapest share class outpaced 90% of peers on a total-return basis. And it delivered strong risk-adjusted returns (as measured by the Sharpe ratio), placing it in the top decile of its peer group.

Line graph showing Allspring Core Plus Bond STYJX growth from July 2008 through June 2022 compared to Intermediate Core-Plus Bond Morningstar and Bloomberg US Universal Index.

Hilda Applbaum, Capital Group

Serving as the principal investment officer on American Funds Income Fund of America RIDGX since 2005, Applbaum’s leadership on the Silver-rated Income Fund of America has translated to investor success.

For example, she’s built a successful portfolio of dividend-paying stocks and bonds. Though the equity portfolio tends to have a value tilt, it has kept up with the category index and outpaced 69% of peers on Applbaum’s watch through the end of January 2024.

Line graph showing American Funds Income Fund of America RIDGX growth from December 2005 through May 2023 compared to Moderately Aggressive Allocation Morningstar Category and Morningstar Moderately Aggressive Target Risk Index.

Who Are the Top Female Portfolio Managers in the UK, Europe, and Asia?

The success of female portfolio managers can be seen worldwide. Morningstar analysts have identified several women who have managed their respective funds and produced strong results for their investors across the UK, Europe, and Asia.

Paola Binns, Royal London

One of the most experienced portfolio managers in the Sterling Corporate Credit space, Binns is currently head of Sterling Credit. Throughout her career, she’s gained valuable experience across European corporate bonds, government bonds, and emerging-markets debt.

With her strong analytical capabilities, she’s been able to add value and manage research-intensive bottom-up-driven corporate bond strategies. Binns has been lead manager for Bronze-rated Royal London Short Duration Credit Fund, Royal London Sterling Credit Fund, and Royal London Investment Grade Short Dated Credit Fund—accounting for a total of GBP 6 billion in AUM across all three funds.

Line graph showing RLBF II Royal London Shrt Dur Credt Z Inc from 2013 through 2023 compared to EAA Fund GBP Coporate Bond – Short Term, ICE BofA 105Y Sterline Non-Gilt TR GBP, and Markit iBoxx GBP NonGilts 105 TR.

Sonali Pier, Pimco Diversified Income

Winner of the 2021 US Morningstar Award for Investing Excellence in the Rising Talent category, Pier leads the Irish-domiciled Pimco GIS Diversified Income, where she earns a High People Pillar rating. She’s also lead manager at the US-domiciled sibling, Pimco Diversified Income. While she makes full use of the depth and breadth of Pimco support, she’s ultimately responsible for picking every name in the portfolio.

Results have been positive: Since Pier’s arrival, the strategy’s representative share class outpaced 60% of peers in the global flexible bond – euro-hedged Morningstar category.

Line graph showing PIMCO GIS Diverse Inc Inv EURH Acc from January 2023 through January 2024 compared to EAA Fund Global Flexible Bond – EUR Hedged and Bloomberg Global Aggregate TR Hdg EUR.

Pauline Ng, JPMorgan

Hailed as the “Queen of ASEAN,” Pauline Ng distinguishes herself with her deep investment experience and leadership qualities. Ng fosters a collaborative culture for the five-member ASEAN team and adopts a team-based approach—where each member is a country specialist within the region, contributing to idea generation and portfolio construction.

Ng has built an impressive long-term track record. Over her tenure as lead manager from January 2009 through January 2024, the Silver-rated, Hong Kong-domiciled JPMorgan ASEAN gained 8.19% per year (in USD terms), outperforming the MSCI AC ASEAN Index by 167 basis points and ranking in the 40th percentile among peers.

Line graph showing JPMorgan ASEAN (acc) from January 2009 through January 2024 compared to EAA Fund ASEAN Equity and MSCI AC ASEAN NR USD.

Finding High-Performing Fund Managers

Here’s how to recreate the screening process in your investment research. This workflow in Morningstar Solutions can help identify new opportunities or flag fund managers to watch.

  • Choose a Morningstar Category that fits your portfolio strategy.
  • Filter by People Pillar ratings. This can help uncover investments backed by strong manager talent, tenure, and resources.
  • Filter by Morningstar Medalist Rating. This can help investors surface strategies that Morningstar believes should be able to outperform their category peers. You can also use other performance data points based on your criteria.
  • Refine by other relevant criteria. Narrow down the list with data points like expense ratios and risk and return data to highlight the best opportunities.

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