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Survey finds obstacles remain for women in accounting

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November 15, 2011

Nearly three-quarters of women in accounting and finance believe they face different obstacles from their male counterparts, according to a new survey.

Despite this belief from 73 percent of female respondents to the latest Mergis Group Women & Men in Finance and Accounting Careers Workforce survey, two-thirds of women believe accounting and finance provide a good work/life balance. Also, 86 percent of women and 88 percent of men say they would encourage young women to pursue the finance and accounting field.

At the same time, both genders see a dearth of guidance in the profession, with 28 percent of women and 31 percent of men reporting that they never had a mentor or role model to support their careers. Approximately two-thirds of men and women think role models are instrumental to the success of a career in accounting and finance.

While 61 percent of women and 55 percent of men see a greater need for promotion of accounting and finance careers to women, half of each gender believes mentoring programs would help.

Overall, women are less satisfied with the progression of their careers in the profession then men, with 59 percent of male respondents claiming satisfaction compared to 48 percent of women.

"It is encouraging to the profession to note that both men and women are highly likely to recommend the profession to others," said Patricia Dinunzio, regional managing director of professional placement firm The Mergis Group, in a statement. "But, that said, one of the greatest take-aways from this survey is that there is a clear need for accounting and finance mentorship programs. It is our responsibility to provide these resources to existing and future accounting and finance professionals to enable them to achieve their full career potential and contribute to the future development of the profession."

Other findings of the survey include:

•    Eighty percent of women and 86 percent of men would recommend the accounting and finance professions to a family member
•    Thirty-five percent of women and 26 percent of men feel greater education programs about the field are necessary to increase interest
•    Thirty-four percent of women believe greater availability of scholarship grants would incentivize people to join the profession, while only 13 percent of men agreed
•    Accounting and finance skills and expertise were listed as top factors to professional success by 48 percent of men and 51 percent of women, with relationship building and personal networking coming in second, according to 41 percent of women and 39 percent of men
•    More men, at 41 percent, rate developing management skills as a priority, compared to 22 percent of women
•    Thirty-seven percent of men and 34 percent of women say gaining accounting and finance experience is vital to personal success
•    Women in the profession rank being challenged (at 35 percent), compensation (27 percent) and flexibility (12 percent) as the most important factors to career satisfaction, while men’s choices ranked in the order of compensation (35 percent), being challenged (29 percent) and flexibility (12 percent)

The Mergis Group Women & Men in Finance and Accounting Careers Workforce survey was conducted online with a sample of 353 working adults.

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