Behind many great pieces of accounting technology stands a woman - in fact, many women.But women are exiting the tech industry.

As the number of women entering the accounting profession rises higher each year, the number of women entering technology dips. Even the diminishing salary gap is not drawing women into this predominantly male-run industry. But the ones who stay and are promoted to senior roles are a symbol that all is not lost for females seeking a profitable and rewarding career in business technology.

Dice Inc., a provider of online recruiting services for technology, engineering and security-cleared professionals, found in its 2004 and 2005 annual salary survey that the salary disparity between men and women had narrowed to 11 percent. In fact, 2004 marked the first time since the survey's inception, in 2000, that the salary gap had tightened.

However, the Information Technology Association of America, a national association of commercial IT products and services firms in Arlington, Va., showed that the number of female workers in technology-related jobs dropped from a high of 41 percent in 1996, to 32.4 percent in 2004.

The ITAA attributed the decrease to a loss of administrative positions - the category in which one in every three women workers in technology were classified. Women made no progress in senior roles from 2002, according to the survey, with only 25.4 percent of senior roles going to women.

Hiring women into leadership roles, however, can only prove profitable, as concluded by a four-year study from Catalyst, a not-for-profit research and advisory organization for women's issues headquartered in New York. The study, conducted from 1996 through 2000, showed that those technology companies with a high representation of women in leadership roles had a 35.1 percent higher return on equity and a 34 percent higher return to shareholders than companies with no or few women in senior roles.

The women who are promoted to these senior roles often serve as a source of inspiration and motivation to women thinking of entering the field and for those trying to advance up the corporate ladder.

Below is a roster of some notable women involved in the development, production, education and marketing of business technology, and who continue to encourage and further the advancement of women in accounting technology.

Susan Bradley

CPA, CITP and partner, Tamiyasu, Smith, Horn & Braun

Fresno, Calif.

A self-proclaimed geek and avid blogger, Bradley is also a CPA and Certified Information Technology Professional who holds the GSEC security credential. Bradley frequently speaks as a Microsoft MVP on MS Small Business Server and security issues.

Having joined Fresno, Calif.-based CPA firm Tamiyasu, Smith, Horn & Braun in 1984, she was promoted to partner six years later. She has served as the chair of the Technology Committee of the California Society of CPAs, co-authored a book on Small Business Server, and currently volunteers for the Center for Internet Security, a Hershey, Pa.-based nonprofit member-organization that assists companies in setting up adequate technical security.

Bradley holds a BS from California State University, in Fresno.

Connie Certusi

Senior vice president and general manager of accounting solutions, Sage Software Inc.

Duluth, Ga.

Certusi serves as the customer champion for such Sage Software products as Peachtree, Timeslips and Simply Accounting. In her role as general manager of the accounting solutions business unit, she directly oversees product strategy, research and development, and product management, as well as internal systems for Sage Software Small Business Inc.

Prior to joining the former Peachtree Software in 1996, Certusi gained experience in the financial software industry at MSA/Dun & Bradstreet Software, SQL Financials and Ross Systems. She spent 10 years with MSA/Dun & Bradstreet Software in various areas of product development, marketing and management.

Certusi holds a BBA degree in management science from the University of Georgia.

Karen Engel

Senior product manager, Microsoft Business Solutions

Fargo, N.D.

As a senior product manager for Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly known as Microsoft Business Solutions' Great Plains), Engel has spent nearly a decade driving the innovation of the GP product line. She and her team collaborate across Microsoft with over 2,000 partners, who deliver and enhance the GP product line for customers in more than 100 countries.

Engel recently led the launch of the newly branded Microsoft Dynamics GP, and also led the technical readiness efforts for this release to ensure that MBS partners were ready to capitalize on the opportunity as the product shipped.

With over 11 years experience in business applications, Engel has led product management teams, and built and delivered customer and partner training curricula.

Before joining MBS, Engel was a public school business teacher for seven years.

Lisa Kianoff

CPA, CITP and president,

L. Kianoff & Associates Inc.

Birmingham, Ala.

One of the first CPAs to earn the Certified Information Technology Professional credential in Alabama, Kianoff has been called a trailblazer in business technology. She founded her computer consulting firm, L. Kianoff and Associates Inc., 18 years ago in Birmingham, serving clients in various industries.

A member of numerous boards, including the Information Technology Alliance, Kianoff is also a member of the Alabama Women Business Owners Hall of Fame and was elected the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce's Woman of the Year in 2004. She has authored many articles on technology and speaks regularly to industry and professional groups across the nation.

Kianoff received her BA in accounting from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Teresa Mackintosh

CPA and vice president of marketing, Creative Solutions Inc.

Dexter, Mich.

In her current role as vice president of marketing at Creative Solutions Inc., Mackintosh keeps close tabs on the marketplace for innovative strategies to assist practitioners in their quest for profitability. Mackintosh also coordinates the marketing activities for CSI for print and online advertising media.

Prior to joining CSI in 1996, Mackintosh worked as a tax consultant for Price Waterhouse LLP. Since joining CSI, she has worked in a variety of roles, including development, product strategy and marketing. She has helped shape the direction of the Creative Solutions Web Services product line, and helped spur the adoption of technology among accountants.

She has her MBA and BBA from the University of Michigan.

Allison Mnookin

Vice president, QuickBooks Financial Software

Mountain View, Calif.

As the vice president of Intuit's QuickBooks Financial Software, Mnookin is responsible for leading the team that develops and markets the core QuickBooks financial software products. Previously, she led product management for the QuickBooks product line, expanding it from two to six different offerings, including industry-specific products and offerings for larger small businesses.

Prior to joining Intuit in July 1998, Mnookin held several positions with Oracle Corp., where she led the business case and product management for Oracle's first e-commerce initiative - the Oracle store.

She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Michelle "Mickey" Scheffki

CPA, CITP, partner and director of technology consulting, Downstate Illinois Client Service Center, CGTS

Peoria, Ill.

With more than 25 years' experience in accounting and information systems selection and implementation, Scheffki is not only a CPA, but a CITP and a Certified Information Systems Auditor, and also serves on numerous committees within the Illinois CPA Society.

She joined Clifton Gunderson as firm-wide director of technology consulting and partner in their Peoria, Ill., office in 2001 and still holds the same titles. Prior to joining Clifton Gunderson in 2001, Scheffki assisted in the creation of the American Institute of CPAs' Women's Executive Committee, a group created to enhance the recruitment, volunteerism and leadership of women CPAs.

Scheffki holds a BSBA in accounting from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Nina Smith

Executive vice president and chief marketing officer,

Sage Software Inc.

Irvine, Calif.

Responsible for setting and overseeing the strategic marketing direction for all Sage Software companies and products, Smith has implemented multi-dimensional distribution strategies that encompass retail, distribution and business partners since she joined Sage in 2001.

Smith joined Sage from Webtrends Corp., a Web analytics company in Portland, Ore., where as chief marketing officer she conceived, executed and managed a variety of marketing initiatives and functions. She also spent 19 years at Xerox Corp., holding a variety of senior management positions, including chief marketing officer.

Smith now serves on the boards of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and Output Links Inc., and lectures frequently on marketing, mentoring and general business topics. She is a business graduate of the University of Redlands, Calif.

Lynne Stockstad

General manager, Microsoft Dynamics GP and SL, Microsoft Business Solutions

Fargo, N.D.

Stockstad is the general manager of the Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) and SL (formerly Solomon) product lines. Her responsibilities include overseeing the worldwide product strategy, product marketing and overall business management for both of these product lines.

An 18-year business applications veteran, Stockstad joined Microsoft through the acquisition of Great Plains Software. Before assuming her current position, she served as general manager of marketing strategy for the MBS group across all product lines, and has also worked as a technical support specialist, trainer, competitive analyst, product manager and product marketing manager.

Stockstad earned a BA from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Jill Ward

Vice president and general manager of accountant relations, Intuit Inc.

Mountain View, Calif.

In 2001, after serving as president for a multi-million-dollar customer relationship management outsourcing business, Ward joined Intuit as the vice president and general manager of QuickBase, a Web-based service that enables teams to design and use databases.

Ward went on to lead Intuit's vertical solutions businesses and today has become the chief champion for accountants as the vice president and general manager of accountant relations. Her responsibilities include mobilizing the entire company to focus on serving the needs of accountants and helping CPAs better serve their own clients.

She holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth.

Geni Whitehouse

Vice president of product management, Sage Accpac (Sage Software Inc.)

Pleasanton, Calif.

Whitehouse has spent the last 20 years finding new ways to apply her accounting expertise to technology and her technical expertise to accounting. She has found a way to do both with her current position as vice president of product management for Sage Accpac, a division of the Sage Software Inc. Accounting Solutions Group.

In the past, she has served in such senior tech roles as an independent reviewer of accounting software solutions; chief operating officer of Elliott Davis Technology Solutions LLC, a network integration and security provider in Augusta, Ga.; and director of product marketing and strategic alliances at Navision Software.

She is an frequent speaker and received her BS in accounting from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Catherine Wolfe

Vice president of tax and accounting publishing, CCH

Riverwoods, Ill.

At CCH, Wolfe has overseen the development and launch of a wide range of electronic and print products. She led the CCH team that developed the company's first Internet tax research system, and also managed the team that developed CCH@Hand, an application suite of research tools.

As vice president of tax and accounting publishing, Wolfe has significantly expanded the unit's product portfolio and the integration of new tools and functionality into CCH's online research solutions, such as CCH Smart Charts, which are online charts that answer sales tax questions.

Wolfe joined CCH's product management organization in 1993, and has held various leadership positions in publishing, sales and marketing.

She earned a BA in English from Cornell University, and holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

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