IT'S a stark figure -- a €20,000 pay gap between male and female accountants at the same level.
While it was gleaned from a relatively small sample pool of 400 accounting professionals, the figure is still indicative of a wider problem. Numbers released recently by European statistics agency Eurostat found that men earned 13.9pc more than women in 2010, an increase rather than a decrease on the previous year.
Some analysts blame the accounting industry's gender pay gap, and that of other financial service activities, on a family-unfriendly working culture.
"It's not surprising, unfortunately, that there is such a pay gap in the accounting profession across gender," said University of Limerick accounting lecturer Sheila Kilian.
"Research in the UK relates it to flexible working hours, which women are more likely to undertake early in their careers when their kids are young. Men who move to flexible hours are more likely to do so later in their careers, which damages their prospects less.
"Anecdotally, in Ireland, many women move out of professional practice and work in industry, where there are likely to be more family-friendly policies. But a lot depends on the individual firm," she said.
It is "gloomy news for the accountancy profession as a whole", according to financial recruiting firm Mark Sattin, which compiled the figures.
Employers miss out on talent by neglecting to reward women in the same way as men, it said.
"It is vital to address why and when this disparity starts, to prevent the financial services sector profession from losing out on potential top talent," said the firm's associate director, Dan McKeown.
Interestingly, his company's research still found no real difference in job satisfaction among the genders, even despite the pay gap. Both two-fifths of the men surveyed and two-fifths of the women said they were satisfied with their jobs.
This, it suggested, might relate to motivation: that women care less than men about money and more about achieving a work/life balance.
Some 29pc of the men surveyed said they left their last job for a higher salary, the study found, compared with 24pc of women.
By contrast, 15pc of women moved to improve their career/life balance compared with just 10pc of men, while 11pc moved for an easier commute compared to 4pc of their male counterparts.
While job satisfaction is clearly not a bad thing in itself, it could be preventing women from closing the pay gap. The survey found that those happy with their jobs are less likely to push for a raise even if they are not being rewarded at the same level as colleagues.
"The fact that job satisfaction is comparable between the genders suggests that the majority of accountants are reasonably content with the status quo," said Mr McKeown.