Where are the Female Value Investors?

Intelligent Investor co-owner Greg Hoffman attended the Aurizon investor day yesterday. He sent me an email this morning with a few thoughts on the company and some of the potential opportunities ahead for it. But the most striking thing about the day was the preponderance of testosterone:

The room (management and analysts) was a sea of guys in blue suits. Not one of the ten Aurizon management team presenting was a female. And in the audience, I'd say it was 90% male, if not 95%. It felt a bit uncomfortable for me, let alone the handful of women there.

Investment banks are still dominated by males. But the value investing community is worse. Gareth Brown attended Value Investing Seminar in Italy last week where the 22 exclusively-male speakers were presenting to a 200-strong crowd of exclusively-male value investors.

It’s a disgrace. And we’re no better. Intelligent Investor has not employed one female analyst in the 10 years Greg and I have owned the business. The organisation today employs more than 20 people, of whom just four are female. They work in marketing, design, customer service and accounting.

Embarrassing, yes. But it’s also perplexing. We’re not exclusively male because we keep selecting males over females. We’re exclusively male because we only get job applications from men. I reckon we have had more than 200 analyst applications over the past 10 years, of which two have been from females.

Every second week we get a letter from a uni student who thinks they are going to be the next Warren Buffett. To a man they are men.

So my question is this: why is this occupation (and our company) unattractive to females?

It’s not a lack of graduates. My university class was close to 50% female. And it’s not a lack of interest. It’s not quite half, but a significant portion of Intelligent Investor members are female.

Perhaps it takes a certain naivety and ego to think you can beat the market. Perhaps that trait is more prevalent amongst the male population. But I am at something of a loss.

Flexible work hours, good potential pay and the opportunity for intellectual challenge every day for the rest of your life. I just don’t understand why that’s not appealing to intelligent female university graduates.

So you tell me, where are all the female value investors?

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