Via The Sydney Morning Herald : Sex discrimination is rife in the financial sector with a new study of accountancy firms revealing women are routinely denied promotion based on their gender.
I feel women lack the talent of multi-tasking.
Male principal of an accountancy firm
The study by the University of New England’s business school found female employees were perceived as unreliable and inflexible due to their family commitments.
“I feel women lack the talent of multi-tasking as they are confronted with family and/or career conflicts and pressures,” the male principal of an accounting firm said.
Another male principal said child-rearing resulted in significant disruption to the careers of female employees.
“(Women) cannot progress further with having many career breaks or part-time employment options in this field,” he said.
A number of respondents to the study said female employees were paid less because family commitments meant they were unable to network with clients.
“We have high net worth clients and often out of business hours networking is a compulsory activity,” a male respondent said. “Our female employees have children and family commitments after the normal working hours. Only our male employees are available to engage in these networking activities and they have to be paid more in the form of incentives for their efforts.”
Researchers Dr Sujana Adapa, Professor Alison Sheridan and Dr Jennifer Rindfleish spoke to the owners or managers of accountancy firms in regional and metropolitan areas for their work, which has been published the Australasian Journal of Regional Studies.
Dr Adapa said the findings revealed entrenched discrimination towards female employees, who comprise half of qualified practicing accountants.
She said employers in regional areas were more conservative than their metropolitan counterparts, with attitudes straight out of the 1950s.
“It’s the 21st century but it appears nothing much has changed for some of these firms,” she said.
The research found that despite female students often performing better than their male peers at university, many ended up marooned in poorer paid junior roles once they entered the workforce.
Dr Adapa said that this was due in part to female employees being excluded from networking events.
“When it comes to pay discrimination it seems male employees are compensated with ‘attractive incentives’ for their engagement with networking related activities that many women can’t do because of family commitments,” she said.
Researchers discovered that a number of female accountants had established their own firms because it was seen as the only way they could get ahead.
One female company partner told researchers: “Annual pay and incentives are different for men and women working in the profession. Everybody is aware of this discrimination.”
The financial and insurance sector has the highest discrepancy between women and men’s salaries, according to gender pay gap statistics released this month by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
Women working in finance or insurance earn 30 per cent less than their male colleagues, compared with an average gap of 17.3 per cent across all industries.