Female auditors in Belgium : striking figures and facts
Faculty of Applied Economics
Accountancy en bedrijfskunde : maandschrift
, p. 15-28
University of Antwerp
Although the proportion of women in the audit profession has increased sharply during the last quart of the 20th century, they remain to date a minority in a male-dominated profession. While an equal number of women and men have been entering the profession for over two decades, they are not progressing at the same rate to the higher levels of management within audit firms; female auditors are a minority, female audit partners a rarity. This paper is, to our knowledge, the first to provide detailed information about the position of women in the audit profession in Belgium. We thoroughly report about different genderrelated aspects within the Belgian audit market, based on the annual reports of the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR/IRE) and on data from the financial statements of all Belgian companies that were subject to control by an external auditor (either mandatory or voluntary) in 2008. Three main conclusions arise. First, women are only progressing very slowly into the upper echelons of audit firms. Second, considerable differences are noted between females who do reach these higher echelons (and act as engagement partners) and their male counterparts. Third, the situation of female registered auditors differs sharply across the Big 4, the second-tier, and small audit firms opportunities for career advancement are smaller for women in the larger audit firms. We suggest that many questions that are raised by this paper can be understood by taking into account the masculine nature of the audit profession.