Date of Completion
Traditionally a male-dominated field, the public accounting industry has seen recent progress in the presence and advancement of women in the profession. Today, women comprise half of accounting students, Certified Public Accountant test-takers, and employees at public accounting firms. However, women in public accounting face an invisible barrier when it comes to reaching the level of partner, where they represent only nineteen percent of partners. Uneven distribution of female representation should be of concern to public accounting firms seeking to maximize the potential of their talent pool and gain the benefits of diverse leadership. Traditional viewpoints on this issue promote the idea of the work-family narrative, which suggests that women leave the industry prior to partner level due to conflicts with family life; however, current research has shown family conflict tends to be a secondary reason for female departure from the field. Primary reasons for departure tend to be associated with stress resulting from work culture elements. My research examines the effect of the public accounting work culture on gender inequity within leadership, exploring how long working hours, the concentration of deadlines into a “busy season,” and an “up-or-out” promotion system that places high pressure on career advancement contribute to the lack of female representation at the partner level. Through analysis of existing literature in the fields of business and accounting, I draw conclusions about the ways in which the public accounting profession would benefit from work culture alterations in order to encourage and improve female representation in leadership.
Petersen, Paige, "Gender Inequity Within Public Accounting" (2016). Honors Thesis. 159.