San Diego (Sept. 30, 2003) -- While workplace dynamics are changing, they're not changing quickly -- participants noted in a discussion on gender bias at the American Society of Women Accountants' annual conference here.

"There have been significant improvements in attitudes and practices conducive to the advancement of women during the past 20 years, but gender bias is still one of the biggest issues women face in the workplace," Karen A. Hefner told attendees during the workshop sponsored by the Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting.

While there have been gains -- there are virtually no fields of work that are closed to women and women have penetrated the entry-level managerial and professional ranks of all occupations -- challenges for women still exist, Hefner said. Women still contend with stereotyping, sexual harassment is still a concern, and women still haven't broken through the glass ceiling in significant numbers. In addition, women are still frequently denied comparable pay. While Hefner noted that on average, women receive 75 cents in pay for every dollar men earn today, she added, "Twenty years ago, that number was 70 cents."

Among the strategies Hefner outlined for overcoming external barriers to women's career success are: forming mentoring groups, exercising more initiative in seeking feedback and getting both positive and negative feedback, sharing what you know about the politics of male interaction in your workplace so you can help others, and increasing efforts to collaborate with men to increase the comfort level men and women have with each other as colleagues.

-- Melissa Klein

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