Earlier this summer, Girls Who Invest (GWI), a non-profit organization with a mission to increase the number of women who work in portfolio management and executive leadership, held its first ever summer program for female college students at the University of Pennsylvania. Among the program’s cohort of 30 women was Irene Xiang ’18, who wishes to change how the asset management industry operates and is perceived.
After attending the Intercollegiate Business Conference at Harvard University in October, Xiang became fixated on a career in asset management—an industry where women are strikingly underrepresented.
“It can often take twice as much work for women to get recognition,” says Xiang, a mathematics and chemistry major from Westford, Mass.
According to GWI, women managed less than 10 percent of the world’s investable capital in 2014. Seeing such a striking gender disparity, Xiang believes it is crucial to create a pipeline of qualified female leaders into the industry, thus establishing a community and presence that encourages young women to pursue asset management careers at all levels.
During the four-week program, Xiang attended classes, listened to prominent guest speakers from the investment world, and visited several Center City Philadelphia businesses, including PNC Bank, Comcast, and the Philadelphia office of Bloomberg.
In addition to addressing a gender disparity among industry leaders, part of the GWI’s mission is socially responsible investing (SRI), an investment strategy that seeks not only financial return, but also social good. Xiang reflects this sentiment, stressing the importance of making ethically sound choices in the asset management industry.
“[Working in asset management] should be about more than just money,” she says. ”You want to feel good about what you do.”
Having successfully completed the program, Xiang is now applying what she learned at a six-week summer internship in New York City at Taconic Capital, a global institutional investment firm. There, she is working specifically with fixed income investments.
“I encourage more Swarthmore students to apply to this program,” says Xiang. “I’ve never received so many resources over such a short period of time.”