Men vs. women – the accounting conundrum

Women of Washington – Oct. 1, 2014

This week, the Women of Washington radio show hosted its first panel discussion. Show hosts Gigi Schumm and Aileen Black sat down with Amy Thorn, Kellye Jennings, and Cassie Hartogs, partners at BDO’s Government Contracting Practice.

On why there are so few women in accounting at the partner level compared to entry-level positions, Hartogs said, “I think accounting firms don’t understand how you...

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This week, the Women of Washington radio show hosted its first panel discussion. Show hosts Gigi Schumm and Aileen Black sat down with Amy Thorn, Kellye Jennings, and Cassie Hartogs, partners at BDO’s Government Contracting Practice.

On why there are so few women in accounting at the partner level compared to entry-level positions, Hartogs said, “I think accounting firms don’t understand how you can be flexible with women and how we need to embrace the future and we need to embrace technology for women to really succeed.”

(Photo Credit: Sunaina Bhatnagar)

Thorn added, “BDO is a national firm and so we have a national women’s initiative that is examining…why do we have this drop off in the industry.”

When it comes to how she and others manage to help their contracting clients navigate the maze of government audits, Jennings said, “When it comes to small businesses, they’re not used to having DCAA audits…so I think a lot of what we try to help them with is being prepared, because the audit process is pretty set in stone…A lot of times audit issues happen because [the contractor] doesn’t necessarily understand the questions and so something becomes a big issue that should not have been a big issue. So, it’s really making sure our clients feel prepared for those audits so they’re comfortable and can navigate the process as easily as possible.”

On whether she’d recommend young women pursue a career in accounting, Thorn said, “Absolutely. I have been doing this for a while now and have no regrets…it’s challenging work, but being able to become a partner in a public accounting firm and also managing to raise a family, it’s just a profession that does provide that opportunity, especially when you work at a firm that…supports that kind of work- life fit, like at BDO.”