Where Are the Women in Public Accounting?

successful peopleIn a recent video interview of Terri Polley, President & CEO of the Financial Accounting Foundation, Terri addresses a constant question – where are the women in public accounting?

Terri Polley hits on many known statistics and stereotypes out there, such as that more than 50% of graduates in accounting are women and have been for over 20 years, yet a much lower percentage reach leadership roles in this industry.  Why?  Terri suggests that this change is evolutionary and that it is “just a matter of time before things even out”. 

I tend to disagree.  The percentage of women in leadership roles has remained consistent for over a decade even with the qualified pool of talented women.  How long will it take to even out?  If what Terri is suggesting is true related to family dynamics, and that women tend to take the lead role in family matters and those who do will generally “opt out” of their career in public accounting, this statistic may never change.  Yes, there are more role models and yes, women do have more resources to find balance, but more needs to be done. 

At CDH, we are working hard with our LEAD Women’s Initiative to change perceptions, provide resources, and get women in a mentoring relationship.  Additionally, we provide constant information on alternative work programs and how they can and do work.  We have several events during the year to enhance skills that many women avoid such as networking and leadership.  Finally, we have a structured advocate program, where the advocates have been trained to understand and address barriers to our up and coming women’s success.   

Although I found Terri’s suggestion in this clip a step backwards, anything that gets you talking is a step in the right direction!  How is that for finding my voice?  Give this video a listen and let me know what you think!



Wendy Kelly

Wendy Kelly joined CDH in November of 2010, and serves as Principal in our Assurance Group. She brings more than 20 years of experience working exclusively in public accounting. Wendy was deeply involved in the implementation of a women's initiative at her previous firm, and has been active in starting the Women's Initiative at CDH. In addition, Wendy sponsors ongoing education for women related to networking, communication differences between men and women, and work/life balance. http://www.cdhcpa.com
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