#ChooseToChallenge Recovery Projections This International Women’s Day



International Women’s Day (IWD) has origins dating back more than 110 years ago when Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland celebrated the day internationally in 1911 with more than one million women and men attending IWD rallies around the world1. Over the years, International Women’s Day has developed to not only recognize the contributions from women the world over as some of the cornerstones of modern art, medicine, business and innovation, but maintains its push for progress toward gender equality. Today, women in the U.S. are experiencing greater equality than ever before, however, challenges remain in every industry, the accounting profession included.

According to Catalyst, more than half of all accountants and auditors are women, making up 50% of all full-time staff at CPA firms. While the profession is primarily composed of women, they account for just 27% of partners and principals2. During the AICPA ENGAGE panel in 2020, it was advised that changing this disparity required focus on acquisition, retention and promotion, the Journal of Accountancy reported. The panel also stated that very few of those female partners were from marginalized groups.

These reports from 2020 came in the early months of the pandemic before new devastating reports suggested that women were leaving the workplace by the hundreds of thousands every month due to school and childcare facilities being shut down. As businesses focused on transitioning operations remotely, many were too slow to change expectations for working mothers resulting in an ultimatum, for many, between work and family. CNBC reports that women account for 55% of the net 9.8 million jobs lost since February of 2020 and January marked the lowest rate of women participation in the workforce since 19883.

One of the central driving factors behind this disparity between male and female employment is the increased burden of unpaid care – shopping, cooking, cleaning, childcare and eldercare - which was disproportionately carried by women even before the onset of the pandemic. According to Fortune, women are not projected to recover from this setback until 2024, two full years behind the projected rate of men4.

These new challenges facing women add an extra layer of context to the 2021 International Women’s Day slogan #ChooseToChallenge. What can those working within the profession, and especially those in leadership roles, do to support women working through this major setback to challenge these projections? 

According to MICPA Board of Directors Chair-Elect Michelle F. Randall, CPA, and Professor of Accounting at Schoolcraft College, the answer for most leaders and businesses seeking to retain women within their organizations is simple. “For those of us working in the profession and in leadership roles, our first step in supporting women is to listen.” She explains, “When employees approach us about the challenges they are facing, we first must understand the demands of the many roles they hold outside of work.”

Randall, an active member of the Educators Task Force and within several MICPA committees, notes the importance of flexible work schedules, technology that enables better remote working environments and evaluations based on clear and measurable outcomes as a few of the tools that can help raise women up in the workforce.

Finally, she adds, “We need to remember these situations are often temporary.  By supporting our employees during difficult times, we promote a culture of caring and loyalty, creating a sense that we are all in this together.”

  1. “History of International Women’s Day History.” National Today. Accessed on 4 Mar. 2021

Source: MICPA

 Back to List