Small Accounting Firms Have More Women Partners

@heesaf (741)
October 28, 2006 4:05am CST
Although more women are becoming partners in U.S. accounting firms, the proportion is greater among smaller firms. Nearly 20 percent of accounting firm partners are women, up from 12 percent a decade ago, according to a study by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. A similar proportion serve in leadership positions such as director of tax, director of audit or office managing partner, the AICPA says. Since 2004, women have made up 56 percent of new entrants into public accounting, 42 percent of full-time practitioners and 75 percent of part-time accountants. However, the trade group's most recent work/life survey uncovered significant differences in partnership rates between large and small firms. "We're seeing a greater proportion of women at small firms and a greater proportion of women partners at small firms - one-quarter at small firms versus 12 percent at the larger firms," says Portland State University Professor Elizabeth Almer, a member of AICPA's Work/Life and Women's Initiatives Executive Committee. "When you're talking about smaller firms where women are successful, these are the one-office firms that have a different culture and client base than larger firms, Almer says. "The nature of their work will be different and more flexible." Among the study's other findings: As they move up, accountants plan to stay put. About two-thirds of senior managers plan to remain in public accounting for the next 10 years, and about half predict they'll stay with their current firm. Only 43 percent of female staff accountants and 52 percent of male staff accountants expect to spend the next 10 years in public accounting. Nine out of ten women come back to work after maternity leave. Of those, 62 percent work full-time and 28 percent part-time schedule. When women leave accounting, 90 percent blame working conditions such as schedules, hours or assignments, as do 80 percent of men. Other factors include work/life issues, cited by 86 percent of women and 70 percent of men. The largest firms (defined as those having more than 20 CPAs) are more likely than smaller firms to offer non-partner career tracks - 29 percent versus 20 percent for firms with under five CPAs. Thirty five percent of large firms offer alternative partnership arrangements compared to just 8 percent of the smallest firms.
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