Women CPAs have been making a slow but steady climb through the ranks of public accounting, reveals a recent survey from the Illinois CPA Society, through its Women's Executive Committee. According to the recently released 2009 Annual Survey on the Role of Women in CPA Firms, there has been just a slight increase in the number of women represented in firm/office management positions (up to 12.4% from 10% last year). There has also been gradual improvement in the overall number of women in executive positions from 10.6% in 2006 to 18.7% in 2009. And although the survey finds the number of women entering public accounting firms has decreased from 54% in 2003 to 49% in 2009, the rate at which women are being retained increased slightly (three percentage points) over the same period.
Still, the number of men far outweighs the number of women in partner/principal positions—men hold 82.4% of those positions, women 17.6%. These percentages are nearly identical to last year's finding of 82.8% for men and 17.2% for women, and varied little from year to year. The 2009 “Accounting Women” survey was distributed to 90 public accounting firms in Illinois with 15 or more professionals. It also gauges the effectiveness of initiatives and programs targeted to women with findings based on responses from individual women and the firms. The Society’s Women’s Executive Committee plans on taking a look at firms that have been successful at promoting women for ideas that other firms can emulate. It’s a sure bet that the surveyors’ recommendations are easily adaptable to the BV environment—particularly the information on the ways partners can change the culture and structure of the workplace to encourage women’s professional growth and gains.