SYNOPSIS

This research identifies characteristics influencing partner aspirations in public accounting firms with special emphasis on gender differences. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants reports that only about 2% of entrants ultimately become partners. Women comprise approximately half of those entering public accounting, but only about 23% of equity partners. Although firms offer flexibility and alternative work environments, the changing nature of the workforce has resulted in a remarkably low number of accountants aspiring to be partners, especially women. Our analysis of factors related to aspirations reveals similarities and differences between genders with implications for firms wishing to eliminate perceptions of a “glass ceiling.” Since practice development and developing new business are viewed as critical for advancement, policies encouraging professionals to develop social networks, regardless of participation in an alternative work arrangement, may overcome the stigma that chronic availability for client service is critical for advancement in the firm.

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