If women invested at the same rate as men, the global fund management industry may have had more than US$3 trillion in additional cash to allocate last year, according to a new study.

The analysis, commissioned by BNY Mellon Investment Management, shows the industry “overwhelmingly targets men.” It also found that women are more likely to regard investing as “inherently high-risk” and tend to set aside cash for investments only if they make at least US$50,000 a year.

The upshot is that women often end up with smaller savings than men, which in turn perpetuates gender-based wealth inequality. What’s more, the survey said that well over half the amount in lost investment dollars would have gone toward sustainable assets, equivalent to almost US$1.9 trillion last year alone.

“Looking at the research, it’s clear that increasing women’s participation in investment is critical for their personal prosperity and to help shape a more equitable future for all,” Hanneke Smits, chief executive of BNY Mellon Investment Management, said in a statement. “Doing so will also potentially help increase the allocation of capital for the benefit of society and the environment.”

The study, which was conducted by Coleman Parkes Research, was based on 8,000 respondents across 16 markets spanning Europe, Asia and the U.S. The researchers also interviewed 100 global asset managers overseeing a combined US$60 trillion, and drew on the perspectives of an international advisory panel.

“We will be using the insights from this research to ensure meaningful change takes place,” Smits said. “By doing this, we also hope to promote the investment management industry as an attractive career option for women.”