22 per cent of Chartered Accountants in India are women

Female enrolments to the Common Proficiency entrance test (CPT) for the CA course, conducted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), have increased 51 per cent over the past two years (between 2012 and 2014). From 27, 784 in 2012, the number of women taking the test went up to 33,460 in 2013 and further rose to 41,957 in 2014.

"There is a positive trend in the intake of all professional courses in general and more so in CA, because of high levels of employability it offers and its flexibility. Whenever the intake goes up, it is the women who contribute more to it," said K Raghu, president of ICAI. Girls from humble backgrounds are transforming the lives of their families through this route and in the absence of capitation fee parents are also supportive of their daughters picking CA, Raghu added.

No wonder that the number of qualified women chartered accountants is steadily rising. As per ICAI's data, women CAs made up 20 per cent of the total membership in 2012, a figure which rose to 21 per cent in 2013 and now (in November 2014), women make up for 22 per cent of CAs. Currently, there are almost 50,000 women CAs.

Experts say with education increasingly becoming the key tool for empowerment, the appeal of professional courses is rising and that is seen in the finance profession as well.

Narayanan Ramaswamy, partner and head of education sector at KPMG, feels that the nature of the course suits the systematic and studious temperament of girl students. Ramaswamy said that the flexible professional life that the course offers is a huge draw. A CA with a license to practice the profession can work from home and at the same time serve clients worldwide with the technology support available today. "The fact that one can get back to the profession even after a break, by staying updated, is increasing the interest for the course with women," says Ramaswamy.

Sripriya K, a practicing CA who is one of the six women partners in a Chennai-based CA firm, is a case in point. She quit her well-paying consulting job at a top multi-national for her family and after this break, started her own CA firm along with some like-minded women. She believes that being good at multi-tasking, women take to CA naturally and excel in it.

To address dilemmas that are specific to women CAs, the ICAI has now launched a work portal for women to find part time jobs, jobs with flexi hours or jobs with work from home option. "This is a win-win for both job seekers and employers," officials at the institute said. As per ICAI, around 2,000 women CAs have registered in the portal and around 200 CA firms have posted employment opportunities.
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