Taking more account of women

THE SUITS

The Institute of Chartered Accountants is hardly a bastion of women. But it has just welcomed to the fold its 16,000th female member, 74 years after the first one was admitted. Nicola Cryer (left), who recently received her membership certificate from the institute's president, Roger Lawson, works in the audit department of Nottingham-based Hacker Young. She especially enjoys preparing projections for businesses and would like to go into industry.

Ms Cryer, 26 and hailing from Yorkshire, passed her PE2 final examinations last December. Her success has helped to bring the proportion of female chartered accountants to nearly 15 per cent of the institute's 107,000 total.

In fact, more than a third of new accountancy students are women, but this proportion is not matched higher up the profession.

In an effort to combat this situation, the institute established Workplace 2000 in January 1993. With a current membership of 650 around the country, the organisation holds regular lunches, seminars and discussion group meetings with the aim of promoting the cause of women in accountancy.

Ms Cryer says she is supportive of the initiative and points to such issues as sexual discrimination and the respect of employers and colleagues as things that need to be addressed.

"We need the backing of a professional organisation, as our social structure doesn't allow enough opportunities for women," she says. "It is still perceived to be less important for women to progress in careers than men."

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