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Four Women Running Major University Endowments Left Jobs in Recent Months

Recruiter says departures are not about being female.

Four women running major university endowments have left their jobs in the past few months.

The departures include: Sally Staley, CIO for Case Western Reserve University, who retired; Kimberly G. Walker, CIO at Washington University, who will continue to do some consulting to the university, according to an official release; Pamela Peedin, CIO at Dartmouth College, who announced last November that she will leave this June for personal reasons; and Adele Gorrilla, CIO for Denison University, who left to join an unnamed family fund.

This handful of departures, recently reported by Bloomberg, wouldn’t be so noticeable if there were more women in this aspect of the business, but women account for only about 15 percent of top managers for endowments, according to related research.)

These departures aren’t about being female, says Deb Brown, managing director, asset and wealth management recruiting practice at Russell Reynolds Associates. She believes it is more likely that four women are leaving because traditionally tenure in these roles is short. “Forget the gender issue. You can count the number of men who have been in their jobs for years on a hand and a half.

 “I'm just not convinced that this is a trend line. I think the CIO role is terrific for women. It is the kind of role that can be incredibly satisfying with a reasonable work life balance,” she added.

Yet when it comes to the career ladder, women in finance generally make 65 cents for every dollar their male coworkers earn, says Catherine Hill, vice president for research for the American Association of University Women, AAUW.

It is one of the largest pay gaps in any industry, she says, and especially troubling considering that pay in accounting is generally equal between the sexes. “It isn’t about women being able to do the work, it is something about leadership itself – it is associated with masculinity.”

Hill also believes that the current political environment is making things even tougher on women. “We’ve had a change in the political climate and that affects the workplace climate. We’re seeing a willingness to express bias openly, and women are leaving because of the climate that they experience as a result,” she says.

By Jennie L. Phipps