While women are advancing in the internal audit profession, especially in the U.S. and Canada, many women still feel they lack the necessary skills to compete with their male peers, according to a new report.

The report, from the Institute of Internal Auditors, found that men continue to dominate internal auditing around the world, comprising 69 percent of chief audit executives at publicly held companies. Women also find themselves in the minority for lower-level positions, except in North America, where women hold a slight advantage of 51 percent for those who are not chief audit executives. Twenty-nine percent of the women who responded to the survey reported no additional areas of specialization, compared with 22 percent of men.

There do not seem to be any overwhelmingly male- or female-dominated industries in internal auditing overall, although 52 percent of chief audit executives in educational services are women.

The report, “Women in Internal Auditing: Perspectives from Around the World,” is the latest in a series of studies that came out of the IIA’s Global Internal Audit Common Body of Knowledge Practitioner Survey. It found that women rate themselves lower than men in 10 core internal audit competencies, with the largest gaps being in terms of business acumen and internal audit management.

“Throughout my career as an internal auditor, I’ve seen first-hand the valuable contributions women offer both within their organizations and to the internal audit profession generally,” said IIA global chair Angela Witzany, who heads internal audit at Sparkassen Versicherung AG in Vienna, Austria. “As a global profession, we need to continue to enhance support of and training for women, so that they can continue to grow their skills and assume leadership roles. Organizations that value gender diversity benefit from a range of perspectives that can improve their ability to identify and address strategic risks.”

More than 5,400 women participated in the global CBOK survey. Half of the female chief audit executives polled work in smaller internal audit departments, with three or fewer full-time employees.

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