Unequal Pay for Equal Work?

A new survey reveals that distaff finance staffers earn a lot less than their male counterparts
Lisa YoonOctober 21, 2002

Across the board, women in finance are earning substantially less than their male counterparts. This, according to a new survey by

Based on responses to an E-mail survey from 2,575 finance staffers,’s 2002 Salary Survey Report found that on average, women make $19,000 less than men. Alarmingly, as women move up the chain, the earnings gap actually gets wider: Female senior accountants make almost $12,000 less than their male counterparts. Women CFOs earn an average $35,000 less than their male peers. These numbers represent a difference of 30 to 40 percent between men and women.

The survey only focused on salary, and did not factor in benefits such as flex-time or child care provisions. Taking such components of the compensation package into consideration would only make up about half the difference, however, says President Robert Epstein.

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Aside from the traditional arguments for ethics and fair pay, the gender gap in pay is simply bad business, insists Epstein. He points out that there are now more female graduates in accounting and finance than men. “If over 50 percent of your employees are underpaid,” says Epstein, “it’s just not a good long-term business plan” for employee retention.

Other findings of the survey:

  • Loyalty is greater: Only 33 percent of respondents have been at their current position less than 1 year, down from 48 percent last year.
  • Marital bliss equals financial bliss: On average, married respondents make about $13,600 more than their single peers.
  • The economy is taking its toll: 27 percent of respondents left jobs because of downsizing this year, compared with 20 percent last year.
  • Raises across the board are not as generous. Respondents report smaller pay increases across the board reflecting the downturn in the economy. A little more than a third of the respondents claim their last raise was less than 2 percent. Last year, only 29 percent claimed the same thing.
  • Partners at accounting firms pulled in the biggest salaries, with an average salary of $131,396. CFOs bring in about $96,178; tax managers earn $64,639 — just slightly above audit managers at $63,369. Both staff accountants and senior accountants reported average salaries of $53,535.

CFOs on the Move

Sharlene Abrams was named CFO of software maker Opsware Inc. Abrams was most recently CFO of Mercury Interactive Corp. … Housing manufacturer Champion Enterprises Inc. named Phyllis A. Knight EVP and CFO. Knight was previously president of the mortgage services division of Conseco Finance Corp. … MGP Ingredients Inc., a maker of wheat-derived proteins and starches, named Brian Cahill VP of finance and administration and CFO. Cahill had been serving as general manager of the company’s Pekin, Ill., operations.