I recently returned from the Illinois CPA Society conference. I left with a lot of great information, as well as some interesting observations. The most striking observation relates to the accounting professions very obvious demographic profile.
A few quick glances around the room and anyone would notice that the profession is dominated by men many of the Boomer generation. By simple deduction, its also obvious that women represent a very small part of the population.
In fact, many conference attendees that I talked to brought up the issues surrounding age and gender in the profession and how both women and older men are finding it difficult to find their place in the larger firm culture.
This brings me to my next big observation. As I talked to people on this very hot topic, I noticed that most focused on the differences between older and female professionals and their issues with finding a place in the profession. It occurred to me then that focusing on the similarities might just shed some light on a solution.
As the economy slogs along, many older professionals who fell victim to large firm downsizing are still out of workdespite having years of experience under their belts. Part of the issue may be lack of exposure to technology and the new digital way of doing business.
For women, the issue is not technology, but a desire for true balance between life and work. More and more women are looking for alternatives to a 50-hour, always-in-the-office work weekmaking them less of a fit for the big firm model as well. So, the issue isnt specific to age or gender; its really an issue with cultural fit. The fact is that both groups have the same desireto apply their knowledge and perform work they enjoy.
I believe that many women have found an answer one that they are most willing to share with their male counterparts. Technology has freed many female professionals from the big firm work culture. With SaaS-based applications and services a plenty, women can set up shop at home and build their own firmscomplete with the flexibility and balance they desire. They can take on as many or as few clients as they want while making as much money as they would working longer hours at a bigger firm.
Heres the 411 Boomers can do this, too. Its a matter of changing your mindset from the big firm culture to being a solopreneur. You dont have to sit in an office 10 hours a day anymore; you can work from anywhere. Just take a quick look at one of the many successful mompreneurs out there for a great example of the new business model. Its a matter of closely examining what these women are doing, learning the technology, leveraging your extensive experience, and reinventing yourself.
I predict that more Boomers will start to follow the model that has already been tested and proven by many female professionals. In fact, with the power of todays web-based technologies, the mompreneurs and solopreneurs just might end up taking over the accounting world! See, you have more in common than you thought.
Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.