I read Paul Finkle's article "Gender-friendly partnerships" (Nov. 16-Dec. 14, 2009). While I agree with most points in the article, I do have some insight of my own I would like to share.
While 52 percent of accounting graduates are women, the percentage of women partners is estimated at 16 percent. How can some break through the glass ceiling, while others do not? What I have determined from my own experience, in addition to experts, is that a major factor is the individual, and not the profession or their employer.
Women are very prominent in manager positions down to entry level. Moving past the manager level separates being career-minded from job-minded. Within my firm, we employ more female accountants than male. During the 30-year history of the firm, not one woman has made it past manager. Is that a negative fact?
No. When I think back over the years of female accountants, I cannot think of one beside myself that had the capability, knowledge and desire to become a partner. The key word in the last sentence is desire. I can think of two females in my 13-year tenure with the firm who would have been considered for partnership if they were interested. Ultimately, both declined. Both were very intelligent, very dedicated, but neither had the desire to move forward and accept the additional responsibility.
It takes a special woman with a unique makeup to want and achieve the partner level. Not all women want to be challenged, or be leaders and innovators. I write that as a fact, not as a con. Careers are a personal decision based on personal goals in life, what fulfills you and what defines you.
Women entering public accounting are much more dynamic, self-confident and career-oriented than when I graduated college 20 years ago. The entry-level women I train and supervise have the entrepreneurial spirit that was rare when I started my career. Women have broken barriers in the Big Four and within regional firms. I expect the trend to carry to the smaller firms, but it takes time. I predict that the generation coming into the industry holds many of the future female partners within public accounting.
Sharon B. Gubinsky, CPA
Santos, Postal & Co. PC
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