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Rising number of women narrows gender gap

There is a steady shift in the gender balance of the Australian accountancy profession, according to the enrolment figures of the country’s largest institute. More women are embarking on a CPA Australia qualification than ever before, gradually bridging the gender divide.

According to CPA Australia, 14,062 women signed up to enrol in its entry level programme in 2007, which outnumbered men (10,150) by 16 percent.

iStock Gender balance
The association’s president, Alex Malley, said this is the result of improved working conditions for women. “I think the increase [in women] is due to the opportunities accounting offers, the flexibility it offers, and the increasing recognition that it is the language of business,” he said, adding that his daughter is pursuing a career within the profession.

“These days, men and women are looking for a career that offers a work/life balance, so they find the flexibility that accounting offers very attractive. Women who want to have a family, work overseas or work part-time appreciate that. And then there’s the salary – many of those with a CPA qualification enjoy better wages than those who have just completed a degree,” Malley said.

Women now comprise 41 percent of CPA Australia’s 117,000 members. Ten years ago, women accounted for only 29 percent of the 87,000 members. In the most populous state, New South Wales, women now make up 54 percent of members aged under 34 years.

Malley said he is delighted that more women are establishing careers in the accounting industry: “I think it’s a good thing. Accounting is a great career in great demand. Businesses the world over cannot get enough accountants... I’d say there are four jobs on the international market for every qualified accountant.”

A recent survey by Graduates Careers Australia found that students who furthered their studies by completing postgraduate qualifications prospered from annual salaries that averaged A$60,000 ($55,550) in 2006. This was A$18,000 more than the median salary of those with only a bachelor’s degree. The survey was based on 28,500 responses from postgraduates and included people with masters degrees, professional doctorates and PhDs.

Malley explained: “Many people with a CPA qualification enjoy much better wages than those who have just completed a degree. That’s why my advice to anybody is: just do it. The fact that we are experiencing record enrolments from women and men suggests that an increasing number of young people are attracted by what accounting has to offer. There’s no sign that the skills shortage is about to diminish, so there are plenty of jobs to go around.”

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