The Illinois CPA Society recently released the results of its fifth annual “Accounting Women: 2007 Survey on the Role of Women in CPA Firms.”The survey found only slight shifts in hiring and retention patterns from the results of prior years -- again concluding that women are still underrepresented in key leadership positions.   The survey, conducted through the Illinois CPA Society’s Women’s Executive Committee, tracks the percentage of women in Illinois CPA firms at three levels -- senior/staff, senior manager/manager and partner/principal. The 2007 survey was sent to 78 Illinois firms with 15 or more professionals.   While the percentage of women entering public accounting firms has decreased from 52 percent in 2004, to 49 percent in 2007, the number of women being retained at the senior manager/manager and partner/principal levels has slowly climbed from 39 percent, to 42 percent, and 16 percent, to 18 percent, respectively, over the same period.   “While progress continues to be made in the retention of women in the profession, the real challenge remains in growing these women into leadership roles,” said Elaine Weiss, president and chief executive of the society, in a statement. “Women make up nearly half of the profession, yet only 13 percent are in leadership positions. Although this number has risen steadily over the past few years, it is not increasing fast enough.”   Consistent with last year, women rated flexible work arrangements, mentoring programs, family leave policies and paid time off as the four most effective initiatives in retaining and promoting women. Flexible work arrangements and mentoring programs continue to be the most desired by women working at firms where such initiatives are not yet offered.

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