BOSTON — MORE women, fewer men. That's the finding of Patricia Flynn, dean of the Graduate School of Business at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., and an author of the upcoming study, ``The Accounting Profession in Transition.''
While the number of women entering the accounting field has almost tripled in the last 30 years, the number of men entering the profession has steadily declined since 1977, and has only increased in the last few years, Professor Flynn says.
Men's employment patterns in accounting parallel the rise and fall of salaries in the industry, Flynn says. Salaries peaked in 1970 and then declined through the mid-80s, the study shows. During that time, men left and more women started to enter. It's common that when a profession that was predominantly male starts to get many more women in it, relative pay doesn't rise as quickly, Flynn says.
But since 1988, relative pay has slowly risen, and in 1992 and '93, the number of women and men who graduated with accounting degrees has also increased, she adds.
``This is a really critical juncture in the accounting profession, and it could go in a variety of different ways,'' says Flynn, who presented the study's findings recently to the American Woman's Society of Certified Public Accounts (AWSCPA) of Boston, a chapter of the national AWSCPA in Chicago.
She contends that accounting could become a ``genuinely integrated profession'' if firms offer women flexibility without second-class status, and if these companies work to attract more men back into the profession.
But, Flynn says, if the industry doesn't take action, accounting could become a two-tiered or multi-tiered profession, with high-skilled jobs on top and low-skilled or number-crunching jobs on the bottom.
``If there are two tiers, that does not necessarily mean that women will be concentrated on the bottom tier and men on the top tier,'' she says. ``But if history is any example ... it's something to be definitely concerned about.''