Why are headhunter firms all predominantly women?

I am not seeking to make any normative judgments, but the reality is that most (if not all) head hunting firms that focus on PE associate placement are run by women. Here are some of the statistics I have found by going through headhunter websites:

HSP: 26/26 women

SG Partners: 23/25 women, but one of the men is the director of finance (i.e., not a headhunter)

CPI: 50/53 women

Gold Coast: 11/11 women

Ratio Advisors: 16/17 women

Amity Search: 17/17 women

BellCast Search: 12/12 women

Dynamics Search: 16/21 women

Aggregated, ~94% of all headhunters are women. Notably, all headhunter firms except for CPI and Dynamics were also founded by women.

I cannot understand either why women are preferred in these roles or why men don't go into recruiting. Thoughts?

When you realize it's not about the HHs having high EQ/ empathy that matters, it's for YOU (the professional) using a HH thinking they have high EQ/ empathy that matters. That's what the HH firms are trying to achieve

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I would also guess men in finance just prefer talking to very attractive women for what is basically a sales role. It's kind of like saying "why do hot women all do tech sales". Because there's a bunch of horny guys on the other end who would rather talk to them than another bald mid-50s guy like inside their own firms. I mean, at least that's how I think. If I have to listen to people sell me something at least I hope they are a smoke. Just telling it like it is.

I thought that too at first, but I think there are relevant differences.I can understand how no one wants to talk to a data room provider or like listen to how drug X is marginally better than drug Y for pharma, so they go out of their way to hire attractive women to incentivize a sales discussion.But people definitely want to talk to the gatekeepers of coveted buyside roles. Like if [insert megafund]'s headhunters were all ugly old men, I would still want to talk to them since I want the job.

Honestly there are much better options in terms of careers for anyone who has done a stint in finance.

The main appeal of these roles is the WLB/ fairly low-stress nature of these jobs (at least compared to the alternative) and often there’s a lot more WFH flexibility with these roles, but it comes at the cost of a relatively low salary. In other words it’s an appealing job for a woman with kids who wants to be there for her family. Due to the general trend  that the man has the high powered career, you can see how huge gender imbalances exist in these roles. 


My impression is that recruiters get paid pretty well though? I've heard market is 25% of Year 1 base. One placement for a VP at $300k base is $75k right there...and that's for one placement. Dunno how much the recruiter takes home vs the house takes. But assuming 50%, that's $37.5k take-home for talking to some candidates for 30 min and scheduling some meetings thereafter...Happy to be corrected if this isn't accurate.

Some sizable portion of the candidates might strike out or take offers they sourced from other HHs right?

It seems to me their conversion rate could be pretty low (haven't gone through the process yet so grain of salt) so it might be more of a grind than you give it credit for.

One of the VPs at a HH agency I know is a woman. She’s been doing it for 20+ years. The financial HH firms in SoCal have a mixed, but majority women. I remember going through the interview process, the senior recruiters were smoke shows.

They make good $, but ultimately a sales role. It pays well. The VP had offered me a position in the past at $55k base + comm/bonus based on performance. It wasn’t unusual for candidates to earn $90-100k their first year.

It’s a life balance move and power move. Men don’t find recruiting to be a glamorous career and care more about power. Many women prioritize the work-life balance and care less about being the next Elon musk. 

Being more specific, men who go into IB are very rarely taking large steps back to regain life balance when many women in IB do. 

I think everyone has hit the major points (better WLB, HR tends to be a female-focused field, lower stress). There are definitely a bunch of rockets but I have to say I have dealt with a fair share of incompetent and rude (and unattractive) recruiters as well. Honestly would rather work with someone who can actually help me than a hot airhead but perhaps that take is a little spicy

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