The third week of October 2020 has been declared National Businesswomen’s Week. More than half of all accountants and auditors in the United States are women. To listen, to hear, and to celebrate the voices of these women is timely. It’s important to recognize their strides in their field and to identify implicit and explicit gender bias and opportunities for progress.
Accounting is not the gender-dominated field it once was. According to the AICPA’s 2019 CPA Firm Gender Survey, women make up 61.7% of all accountants and auditors in the United States. This trend for female accountants is clear and encouraging. It creates a snowball effect that attracts more women to pursue accounting. With more women in the field, there are more role models, mentors, and advocates for the young women interested in accounting.
AICPA’s 2019 CPA Firm Gender Survey data also highlight that the number of women in strategic decision-making and leadership positions is historic. According to the data, women comprise 41% of CPA firm directors and 44% of CPA firm senior managers. Their accounting professional contributions, professional sensitivity to gender-equality and inclusiveness can contribute to enhanced work place creativity, generativity, and professional development. According to a United Nations study in 2018, when more women work, economies grow. Women’s economic empowerment boosts productivity increases economic diversification, and income equality in addition to other positive development outcomes. The same study indicates companies greatly benefit from increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women, which is shown to increase organizational effectiveness and growth. It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational performance.
Despite the tremendous growth in women’s representation in the profession, challenges remain. These challenges include confronting implicit and explicit gender-bias about staff ratios, qualifications for partnership, and compensation, and creative contributions to an organization that cannot be quantified. Sex-based wage gaps are widespread in accounting, with women’s median earnings only 80% of their male counterparts.
There is still work to be done and changes to be made, but the many women in accounting continue to open doors and create a better outlook for the future.