This week at accountingcpd, we have been hosting a work experience student. Tolu Oludipe is in Year 12 and is studying Economics, Geography and Sociology. We asked her to pick a topic and write a blog. She chose to look at women in accountancy and the gender pay gap. We think she did a great job and we thought everyone should take a moment to read how a young professional of tomorrow sees our profession...
Accounting. Of course there's women in accounting. But have you ever paused to think about how different the wonderful world of accounting is for women?
Let me start by saying that about 45% of qualified female accountants are working in practice. Which is almost half. Not bad. However if we take a closer look we can see that women account for only 18% of partners at top UK firms.
Now let's talk salary
The average salary for an accountant, according to Accountancy Age, is £62,000. But of course this varies because of things like: who you're working for; where you work and how long you've been working for. Starting salaries are around £25,000 and post qualification, the figure is closer to £50,000. In 2016, The Guardian concluded that women earn less than £5,732 than men in the UK (annually). This figure is concerning. But how does this general figure compare to the wider picture in the accountancy profession?
The accountancy gender pay gap
Accountancy Age found a gender pay gap in accountancy of 21.5%. This doesn't look too bad at first glance. But let's visualise this. There is a male and a female employed in a firm. Both do the same job, work the same hours but here's the difference. The male is earning £40,000 annually and due to the gender pay gap, the female is earning £31,400. That is a whole £8600 difference. That is 80 years' worth of Netflix subscriptions! The good news is that as of April 2019; half of UK firms had narrowed down the pay gap from the previous year. Requiring all firms with over 250 employees to report their gender pay gap seems to having an impact.
Do women have the skills to be successful in the accountancy world?
Yes. Yes they do. And there's plenty of research to back that up. A study at American Women's Society of CPA's found that women are better communicators, better at time management and you guessed it – better at coaching than their supervisors. Time and again, research studies find that women possess better managerial skills. And the more competent the manager is; the better the team will perform.
So why aren't more women at the top?
It seems that women still struggle to break through the glass ceiling. Many report feeling as though they were taken less seriously after they had decided to have a family, as though they were weak or quitting. Unfair right? Must starting a family cause your career to stumble? Should you be at risk of losing your job? Almost inevitably, it seems that career breaks disproportionately affect your chance of reaching higher paid partner or director roles.
So it seems that women continue to be underrepresented at the top of the accountancy world. However, things are looking up for women. The major firms have all announced policies designed to reduce the inequality. If the gender gap continues to decrease, women will be well on their way to success.
So is equality for women in accountancy a stone's throw away? Maybe so, but it would have to be a good throw.