Among professional services, gender equality is far from universal reality
Women’s Equality Day is celebrated on August 26th to commemorate the ratification by Congress of the 19th Amendment, ensuring the right to vote for all Americans, regardless of sex. The 19th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1920, following a peaceful civil rights movement by women across the nation that began at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.
While the right to vote granted equal political status to women and men, the fight to eradicate gender disparity in the professional and social spheres of American society continues today. Although women’s access to education, jobs, and financial freedom has improved in the past century, in the professional world, they continue to face sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and unequal pay compared to male counterparts. Disparity is greater among women of color, who are confronted with two-fold discrimination based on both sex and gender. Women have not yet achieved the full rights and privileges, legal and institutional, of men in America.
Women’s Equality Day should be spent by looking backwards, in celebration improving equality and in acknowledgement of the determined women that brought this progress to fruition. It should also, however, look forward to the goal of complete representation of women in every business and industry, to squelching the wage gap, and to promoting women as professional leaders.
The fight for gender equality rages on. Particularly in the corporate sphere, particularly in mathematics-based professions, and particularly to achieve equal representation of women in leadership.
According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace report by McKinsey, while women make up 52% of entry-level employees across industries, their representation drops at every successive managerial level to just 24% of employees at the C-suite level of companies. (source)
In the accounting and data science industries, gender disparity is even more pronounced than the average American workplace. While women now comprise more than half (62% in 2019) of the accounting and auditing workforce in America, they only represent 23% of partners in CPA firms. (source) In data analytics, women have not gained as much representation as in the accounting industry, due partially to pronounced gaps that emerge at the collegiate education level. Only 26% of data science and analytics jobs in America are held by women. (source) Implicit workplace bias also leads to a lack of hiring and prevents managers from rewarding women appropriately with promotion opportunities for their contributions to firms.
It is time to recognize excellent women and to value their contributions to the accounting and analytics fields in equal measure to their male counterparts.
Take a moment today, to commend and support the women in your personal and professional organizations. Consider how you might empower the women on your team to achieve their full potential impact. In accounting and research, Women’s Equality Day should be dedicated to celebrating the women that we work among and to recommitting to accomplishing fair and equal treatment and opportunities for women in our industry.