In case you needed another crummy datapoint to help illustrate the gender disparity at the partner level in the accounting profession, this finding from the AICPA's Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee CPA Firm Gender Survey should do the trick:
Many firms have non-equity partner tracks that don’t include ownership in the practice. The WIEC survey found women were somewhat less likely to be equity owners as firm size grew, and that men were more likely to be equity owners across the board. Male equity ownership in firms is significantly higher at all firms with more than one equity owner.
Here are numbers:
The report doesn't go into the gap between equity and non-equity partners, but it does attempt to explain the overall gender difference:
While the AICPA surveys and statistics have not investigated career trajectories or choices, they note that women make up 26% of sole practitioners and 43% of partners at firms with 2–10 professionals. That may indicate that women who don’t advance in larger firms may be deciding to set up their own shops or may be moving to smaller firms as an alternative.
Wouldn't it be nice if AICPA surveys did investigate career trajectories and choices? That could finally shed some light on leave larger firms for small ones or to start their own firms. Until we get better information, we'll continue speculating, which you're welcome to do now.