Refine Your Search
Refine Your Search

If X+Y=10 and X+X=7 calculate the number of female accountants

05 May 2015 Candidate Blogs

Women in accounting - top exam results, but still on the trial balance

From what was a male dominated profession there is no doubt, females are making quite a bit of a stir entering accountancy. This year women have scored the highest exam results in the latest ACA Professional Level exams that has resulted in an all women prize list of top scorers.

So not only are women proving themselves academically fit for purpose they are also not afraid to enter a profession once regarded as boys’ school territory.

But this is the start of the story and not the end so there has to be a big ‘but’ somewhere and here it comes:

Although women can prove themselves in the exam room they are yet to be given equal opportunity in the boardroom; even more surprising is that in some parts of the world women now represent the clear majority of accountants. Regions such as Asia Pacific; Singapore and the Philippines have some of the highest female accountant populations in the world estimated to be up to 75%, with the American labour bureau reporting female numerical dominance in accounting and tax positions.
There’s more of the ‘but’; in the UK a recent survey by ICAEW and Stott & May shows women earning on average 37% less than men explaining the gender pay gap partly due to seniority of role, sector bias and job type where pay is typically less.

So here’s the rub in the ‘but’; there are now more women entering into the profession, they represent majorities in some regions of the world, they excel in exams, yet they hold more junior positions, working in sectors that are not so highly paid that offer part time working, and they make slow progress when it comes to the boardroom, a natural path for accountants to take; women are struggling to reach 25% in the ftse 100 companies and only 18% in the top 250. 

On the worst interpretation; the data conspires a theory of discriminatory practice in accounting, the science has little form of testable explanations and the maths simply doesn’t make sense. On the best, it is a decision that women make to be more flexible to their life’s needs, with their choices favouring more worthy and satisfying sectors to work in.

Whatever the cause and we must remind ourselves that equal opportunity and diversity isn’t just about women; it follows along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or any other ideologies. It celebrates differences and balances opinion and decision. Global companies thrive on it.

However the effect of the appalling statistics on women in accounting is not, in the long term, good for commerce and business, and organisations must consider the consequences of continued male dominance at the top in accounting; lest we forget how far women have come in the last century.

For more information on accountancy jobs email


Latest News & Views