20 Most Powerful Women in Public AccountingOver the years, CPA Practice Advisor has recognized leading technologies, as well as the top thought leaders in the accounting profession, inducting a thought leader into the Hall of Fame each year. We have also honored the next generation of leaders with our annual 40 Under 40 awards.


Scroll down to view full profiles on this year's winners.

Each of these are prestigious awards that are highly esteemed by both the honorees and others within the profession. However, there was still a group of professionals that was having an enormous impact on the profession, but was not receiving the recognition they deserved. And it was with that in mind that we partnered with the American Society of Women Accountants to recognize the women who are making the greatest impact on the tax and accounting profession.


"The 'Most Powerful Women in Accounting' Award is a groundbreaking initiative that recognizes the impact women have on the profession. We are really excited about how closely it aligns with ASWA’s mission," said Cheryl Heitz, President of ASWA.


Several studies have been performed over the past few years looking at the role of women in the accounting profession and how that role is changing the dynamic of the profession as we know it. The 2011 Accounting MOVE Project Executive Report found that 40 percent of senior managers in public accounting firms were women. Combined with the fact that more than 50 percent of all newly hired CPAs and recent graduates are women, it’s no surprise that so many women are looked upon as emerging leaders within the profession.


While women may outnumber their male counterparts early on, that number dwindles as they move through their career, with women counting for only 17.4 percent of all partners in accounting firms. Despite the small number of women holding top leadership positions, that has failed to diminish the impact women continue to have on the profession. According to Heitz, there are three areas where women have had the greatest impact: advocating for flexible work schedules; promoting diversity initiatives and supporting entrepreneurship.


"Women make up more than half of the career pool and they are working towards equity at the top tiers," says Heitz. "They are instituting policies to retain minorities and women and create benefits that are advantageous to everyone."


To this year's honorees, congratulations, not only on your tremendous efforts that have awarded you this recognition, but also on being a part of the first class of the 'Most Powerful Women in Accounting'.


The winners of the first annual 'Most Powerful Women in Accounting Awards' are: