Glass Ceiling Continues to Shatter for Women CFOs

New study shows that more women are assuming financial management posts in U.S. companies.

Here’s further confirmation that more women are assuming financial management posts in U.S. companies.

According to a recent survey by RHI Management Resources, an accounting consulting firm, 43 percent of CFOs polled said the number of management-level positions held by female accountants in their firms has increased over the past five years. In addition, 58 percent of respondents said they foresee greater numbers of women being promoted to senior financial roles in the next five years.

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees.

CFOs were asked, “Has the number of women accountants who hold management-level positions in your company increased or decreased in the past five years?” About 15 percent answered “increased significantly” while another 28 percent responded “increased somewhat.”

Nearly half—49 percent—said there had been no change.

In a related question, CFOs were asked, “Do you believe the number of women accountants who hold management-level positions in your company will increase or decrease in the next five years?”

About 45 percent responded “increased somewhat,” up from 31 percent who responded similarly to this question in 1998.

Another 13 percent responded “increased significantly” while 33 percent saw “no change.” Two years ago a whopping 57 percent said they saw “no change.”

According to an RHI Management Resources press release, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau statistics says that women comprised nearly 60 percent of the accountant and auditor workforce in 1999.

The press release also points out that research conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants shows that women account for more than half of all undergraduate degrees in accounting.

The RHI study comes about two months after a study by women’s advocacy group Catalyst, which concluded that women account for 1,622 of the 12,945 corporate officers in the nation’s 500 largest companies, or 12.5 percent. This is up from 11.9 percent in 1999 and 8.7 percent in 1995.

There was also a slight increase in the number of women in so-called “line” positions; those who run the factories, head the sales staffs, and supervise the accounting, according to Catalyst. These are the positions that usually precede senior management jobs. The percentage of women in these positions rose to 7.3 percent from 5.3 percent in 1997.

However, there are still no women corporate officers at 90 Fortune 500 companies.

At 50 of the top 500 companies, women account for a quarter or more of the corporate officer titles. That’s twice as many as in 1995.

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