The advancement of women in the labor force: gender and attitude towards job motivation among American CPAs

One of the most significant socio-economic phenomena of the last quartercentury has been the remarkable increase in the participation of women in the formal labor force. Particularly in the professions, and most notably in the newestone: public accounting. The advancement of women in organizations, especially in the high visibility jobs of the professions, has emerged as an important policy issue in America. Advancement in the professions is all the more interesting because, being service industries composed of knowledge workers, the professions represent the future of quality employment in the emerging Information Age. Because human capital is the most important resource of CPA firms, developing high commitment to quality client service, technical excellence, and professionalism among the staff accountants who make up the bulk of CPA firms’ work force is regarded as a key organizational success factor. Maintaining highlevels of job motivation is widely perceived to be an important goal in managing this resource, and to have a significant effect on advancement. This study surveys attitudes among staff accountants in large accounting firms to see if there are gender-correlated differences in job motivation. The results indicate that women generally have more favorable attitudes towards public accounting, suggesting that the profession need not focus on job motivation when crafting strategies to optimize the advancement of women in CPA firms.