Knowledge Center

Women in Accounting


The Proportion of Women Studying Accounting Worldwide Has Increased Slightly the Past Five Years1

The overall percentage of women studying accounting worldwide was approximately 49% in 2016, up from 48% in 2012.2


Half of Canadians in Accounting Occupations Are Women

In 2016, women were 50.2% of all auditors, accountants, and investment professionals in Canada.3

Women auditors, accountants, and investment professionals earned approximately C$11,000 less than their male counterparts in 2016.4

  • The median in wages, salaries, and commissions for women was C$56,887.5
  • The median in wages, salaries, and commissions for men was C$68,230.6


Women Make Up Almost Two-Thirds of the European Union’s Legal and Accounting Workforce7
Percentage of Women Employed in Legal and Accounting Activities (2016)8
European Union (EU-28) 63.8%
Finland 69.5%
France 68.0%
Germany 69.4%
Ireland 57.3%
Italy 61.6%
Norway 58.5%
Spain 58.0%
Sweden 63.0%
Switzerland 57.4%
United Kingdom 54.1%

In the UK, the percentage of woman principals at the five largest firms were (as of 2016).9

  • EY = 19%
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers = 17%
  • BDO = 15%
  • Deloitte = 15%
  • KPMG = 15%

​United States

Overall Women Have Reached Parity Among Those With Accounting Degrees, Yet Women of Color Continue to be Underrepresented
Percentage of Women Graduates in Accounting and Related Services by Race/Ethnicity and Degree (2015–2016)10
  Bachelor's Master's PhD
Black women 4.5% 4.3% 3.7%
Asian women 4.5% 4.5% 7.4%
Latinas 6.6% 4.2% 1.9%
White women 27.9% 23.1% 22.2%
All women 51.1% 54.5% 50.0%


More than Half of All Accountants and Auditors Are Women11

61.3% of all accountants and auditors in the United States are women.12

In one survey, women are 51% of all full-time staff at CPA firms, but make up just 24% of partners and principals.13

The percentage of women on management committees is growing: 24% in 201714 compared to 17% in 2011.15

  • Women make up 47% of senior managers16 (compared to 38% in 2011).17
Women of Color Are Underrepresented in Accounting

In 2016, 78% of all professional staff at CPA firms were white, according to AICPA.18

30% of new hires in 2016 were people of color.19

  • Women of color make up 16.2% of those employed in accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services.20
The Gender Pay Gap Persists in Accounting

Women working as accountants or auditors earned a weekly median salary of $1,018, compared to the weekly median salary of $1,441 earned by men in the same fields in 2016.21

50% of the firms participating in MOVE (an annual survey that monitors women’s career track in accounting) assess pay equity by department.22

  • Almost a third (29%) train managers to apply equal pay policies when hiring candidates.23

Additional Resources

American Institute of CPAs 

American Woman's Society of Certified Public Accountants

Deepali Bagati, Retaining People of Color: What Accounting Firms Need to Know—Women of Color in Professional Services Series (Catalyst, 2007).

Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Accountants and Auditors," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2017).

Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in Canadian, US, and Global Financial Services.

Katherine Giscombe, Women of Color in Accounting—Women of Color in Professional Services Series (Catalyst, 2008).


How to cite this product: Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in Accounting (January 22, 2017).