Has the Change in Stereotype of Accoutants Benefited the Profession

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It is evident that, over the past 20 years, the stereotype of accounts has changed dramatically. Factors such as; more women entering the accounting profession, advances in technology, and also globalisation have all played their parts in changing the stereotype of accountants for the better. More women entering the workforce has led to increased job competition and social evolution that has changed the typical personality and behavioral attributes of accountants. Advances in technology have brought about greater efficiency, accuracy, accountability, and performance in the accounting profession, and has also led to greater access to accounting. Globilisation has also given rise to a significant change in the role and duties of accountants over the last three decades, with the stereotype shifting from just a local business to multinational accounting firms. This paper will discuss how the stereotype of accountants has changed and how this has affected the profession over the past 20 years.

One of the major contributing factors to the change in stereotype of accountants is the increasing number of women entering the workforce and the profession over the past 20 years. The stereotypical accountant historically has been viewed typically as a male who is precise, methodical, conservative and of boring joyless character. (Friedman et al, 2001; Jeacle, 2008). In the last 20 years, several factors have helped change this stereotype of an accountant. One significant factor is the increase of women entering the accounting profession.

By the late 1980’s women accounted for about 50% of all new employees entering the accounting profession, however of that 50% only 2% of these females were reaching the senior management or partner roles in any of the big 6 accounting firms (Maupin, 1993). The large increase of women into the workforce and specifically the accounting profession in the last 20 years, inspired researchers to find out what, if any, effects this has had on the accountant stereotype that has existed for the last 50 years.

Research was carried out to determine the effect the increase of women have had on the accounting profession and why senior management and partnership roles were held disproportionately to that of which they are entering the profession (Maupin, 1993). Research conducted by Raffield & Coglitore (Unknown) showed that different personality traits and behavioural patterns were significant in the influence they had on the advancement in the accounting industry. They conducted a survey on male and female accountants to examine the different personality traits and behavioural patterns that the respondents believed to be the most important in allowing them to advance in the profession(Maupin, 1993; Raffield et al, Unknown). The results showed that males and females had very different views on which traits were significant in advancing their career. Males ranked 5 masculine traits and 2 feminine traits as being significant, where women rated 3 masculine and 8 feminine in being significant (Raffield et al, unknown).

Although males mainly ranked masculine traits as the most important traits the results show that feminine traits are beginning to have an influence in the industry. This shows that the stereotype that existed years ago has significantly changed. Although slowly, the accounting profession is starting to benefit from its changed stereotype, with a stereotype now that is one of more diverse personality and behaviour it will attract many new and creative people.

Another significant factor that is changing the accounting profession is that with the increase of both males and females, competition for employment is greater than in recent times which have helped increase the standard of professional accountants (Flegm, 1996).This has led to accountants changing the way the work, previously accountants were reclusive, quiet and passive males but with the increase of women into the accounting...
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