Theses Doctoral

Navigating the White-male Environment: How Learning Helps Women Investment Managers

Ireland, Michael Sean

Diversity has become an essential component in companies. As businesses and industries attempt to appeal to a wider demographic of employees while trying to serve diverse markets, they are also seeking to be representatives of such markets. Internal diversity is essential from a business standpoint. Diverse perspectives and backgrounds are proven to result in advantages for businesses which ultimately increase revenues and profits.

The purpose of this study was to address the limited understanding of how White women and women of color navigate the dominant environment in the investment management industry. White men traditionally hold the power in this environment and, as such, are not typically subjected to the same obstacles. The purposely selected sample consisted of seven participants of a program whose mission was to develop women and people-of-color investment managers into more successful investment managers. The research methods included participant interviews and content analysis of documents about the program. Data collections methods included audio-recorded interviews and content analysis of documents about the program. The data were coded and analyzed, first by research question, and then findings were organized into three analytical categories based on the study’s framework.

The research revealed two main tensions surrounding being authentic while seeking to raise money from White-male investors and that participants’ gender identity was perceived as an important part of their identity as investment managers. Participants’ capacity to handle these tensions grew after completing the program and they learned to present themselves in an authentic way.

Recommendations are offered for educators and women investment managers, and for further research, including: (1) authenticity should be focused on and a key tenet of future programs, (2) having separate cohorts or learning paths for different experience levels, (3) emphasize in person training in order to build relationships with each other and with White-male investors/facilitators, (4) be authentic and run experiments based on being authentic to gauge success, (5) focus on building relationships, (6) think of White males as potential allies instead of adversaries, (7) study authenticity further, (8) expand pool of participants in future studies, (9) integrating future studies into the formal program evaluation, (10) study women professionals in the rest of the investment industry, (11) study White-male investors, and (12) study how subordinate White-males in the industry are treated.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Faller, Pierre
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 31, 2023