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A new study says women are outperforming men in the secretive world of hedge funds.

The report, by consulting firm Rothstein Kass, says hedge funds managed by women had returns more than 6 percentage points better than other hedge funds.

Meredith Jones, who wrote the report, says that's because women's ability to handle market volatility sets them apart. 

"There have been a lot of pyschological studies that say women tend to be more risk averse. And as a result, that may mean that they're better able to position their portfolios to handle market volatility."

Women also tend to manage smaller pools of capital and hold smaller positions within their funds. That might go against the popular image of hedge funds of having billions of dollars at a time and taking huge risk, but women having been using that to their advantage.

"Research has shown that smaller funds tend to be more nimble, and again, that nimbleness may equate to the fact that they are better able to handle market volatility and thus put up better returns," says Jones. And becuase women in smaller positions may be less high profile than managers of larger funds, "they're also able to move in and out of the market more efficiently, because their positions don't have any impact on a particular stock or bond or company."

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Follow Mark Garrison at @GarrisonMark