19 Dec 2012 12:53pm

Accountancy lags behind legal profession in gender divide

The legal profession has reached a 50% gender balance, leaving the accountancy profession behind with 43% of accountants being women

Women held 30,000 of the 70,000 chartered accountant positions in the UK in 2011, equal to 43%, but lagging behind the legal profession, where 56,000 out of 113,000 lawyers are women.

However, accountancy compared favourably in its gender ratio to managers in financial institutions, actuaries, economists, and statisticians where 35% of full time professionals are women, according to research carried out by Randstad Financial & Professional.

At a recent round table event, High Achieving, Inspiring Women, hosted by Randstad, a panel of high-powered women said boardroom quotas are not the answer to their underrepresentation in industry. 94% of the attendees agreed this method is not the way for women to grow in sectors such as accountancy.

Last year Lord Davies’ report recommended that FTSE 100 firms should aim for at least one in four female board members by 2015, the government targeted that 50% of all new appointments to public boards should be women by the end of the current Parliament.

In addition, the decision over proposals to impose a 40% female quota on listed boards across the European Union is being debated. According to the European Commission, women currently hold currently less than 15% of EU board positions.

Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial & Professional, and a member on the panel said, “the view I hear echoed by many women in financial services, accountancy and law is that they would prefer to get there on their own merit.”

“Nobody wants to be the token on the board just because of their gender. Perhaps the bigger issue around quotas is the smaller ‘share’ of self-confidence women seem to have compared to men to aim high in the first place,” she added.

Despite this, 50% said women should actively promote other women.

When asked what female traits held women back, 73% of participants listed ‘self-doubt’, while 18% said ‘emotion’ and 8% ‘too nurturing’.


Raymond Doherty


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