While the number of women partners and those in similar leadership positions has risen over the past several years, they still trail significantly when compared to their male counterparts, according to a survey compiled by the Illinois CPA Society Women’s Executive Committee.

The sixth annual poll revealed that men hold nearly 83 percent of partner/principal positions, compared with just over 17 percent for women.

The survey was distributed to 84 public accounting firms in Illinois with 15 or more professionals. However, the survey indicated signs of progress. Women in firmwide leadership roles, firm or office managing partners, and executive management rose to 17 percent this year, after hovering between 10 and 13 percent for the past five years.

The poll also gauged the effectiveness of initiatives and programs targeted at women. Flexible work arrangements, mentoring programs, family leave policies and paid time off ranked as the most effective.

But other initiatives such as childcare assistance, women-specific mentoring programs, programs to develop women as partners on high-profile clients, and a part-time partner track were only in place at 27 to 33 percent of the firms surveyed.

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