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In Mideast finance, women take the lead

Women are taking leading financial positions all around the world.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde recently began her five-year term as the first female head of the International Monetary Fund, and she's not the only woman stepping to the front when it comes to finance. Other women are ascending to ranks at financial companies in the Middle East, The New York Times DealBook reports.

A study from Preqin, cited by the news source, found that women make up approximately 9 percent of the senior management positions in worldwide private equity, with the gender gap in the Middle East being even wider. Compared to the United States - where 60 percent of women are in the job market and females hold 8.7 percent of private equity senior management jobs - only one-quarter of women in the Middle East take jobs.

Hoda Abou-Jamra told DealBook that some of the investors she met regarding a $40 million healthcare fund (for which she is a founding partner) mistook her for a secretary. Since conservative lenders in the region can be slow to offer funding to small firms led by women, Abou-Jamra also choose to seek capital for her firm outside of the Middle East.

On this side of the ocean, women are also taking lead roles in financial organizations. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Marilyn Holt-Smith leads an award-winning portfolio management firm in Madison that she helped establish. She is also a co-founder of Settlers Bank, DeForest, where she is one of two women in the leadership suite.

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