We Love Girls Who Invest

We’re so excited to share an amazing group with you today. We spoke to Kathleen Powers Dunlap, CEO of Girls Who Invest, about bringing more women into the asset management industry.

Girls Who Invest educates more young women how to close the gap between men and women working in asset management through internships and mentorship. 

So what exactly does an asset manager do? They invest money on behalf of institutions like pensions or endowments, and very few women work in the industry, especially at high levels, Dunlap says. 

“The asset management industry has failed to keep pace with other industries,” she says. “They’re missing out on all the intelligence and creativity that women can bring to the table.”

There are so many barriers to entry for young people, especially women in the asset management industry. That also includes knowledge about asset management. 

“Financial awareness and literacy are not taught in schools,” says Dunlap. “There’s a huge lack of awareness.”

Not to mention, the industry suffers a negative perception, especially among the liberal arts majors Girls Who Invest targets. 

“There’s still a very negative perception of our industry,” says Dunlap. “When young people think of our industry, they think of Bernie Madoff. We really need to try to change those negative impressions.”

Asset management, according to Dunlap, is an opaque career choice. It doesn’t have a clear path of schooling in the way becoming a doctor or lawyer does. Enter Girls Who Invest, which provides an internship program, mentorship and an online certification for women who are interested in careers in asset management. 

So what’s in it for women? 

“The thing I find really appealing is that the asset management business is a meritocracy,” says Dunlap. “It’s all about performance.”

That’s true: An asset manager is often judged on whether she can increase investment returns, even by a few basis points (one hundredth of 1%).

Want to up your game? 

Consider applying for either the Girls Who Invest summer program or the online education seminar. 

If you’re not in college, you can support the group by sharing on social media to help Girls Who Invest expand its reach. 

- Alicia McElhaney / She Spends Issue #23