Women in Accounting

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LITERATURE REVIEW
INTRODUCTION
This chapter critically reviews literature on what scholars deem to be the factors that contribute to female scarcity in senior positions as far as the accountancy profession is concerned. It will also document the history of women in the accountancy profession. The review of literature takes into account the international, regional and local contexts. History of women in accountancy profession

In the past, women were not allowed to do any accounting job as it was perceived to be a man’s job. Major accounting firms did not hire women at all. Now, before World War II women were only hired as “bookkeepers”. In 1940 there were 475685 women bookkeepers who represented 51.1% of the bookkeepers then employed (Business and Economics History, pg. 79). Out of these masses only 18265 women were later employed as accountants or auditors. Colleges in the past discouraged women from studying accounting courses (Lasseter, 1945). However the accounting profession has experienced large pool of female accountants in recent times. The fact remains, women are behind in terms of progression to senior positions as compared to their male counterparts. The accounting profession like other profession such as law, and engineering have only been studied by Africans of recent especially women. This is evidenced by reliance on using International Accounting Standards issued by IASB of the western countries including the United Kingdom. Even though this is the case, African women continue to struggle and make very small numbers in senior positions. As aforementioned, in South Africa only 3% female account for chatteredaccountants in the country as compared to the males, (ASA Accountancy, 2009). The study of accounting profession in Botswana is relatively new. It is only in 1990 that the Botswana institute of Accountants later in 2010 to be changed to Botswana institute of chatered accountants (BICA) was established. However since its inception (BICA) none of the women held the presidency sit until of recent in 2008 that the institute’s first female president was elected. Therefore there is need to investigate the reasons for small number of women in senior positions in Botswana where women were not banned from becoming accountants as it was the case in the USA and the United Kingdom (Lasseter,1945). Therefore some of the factors believed to contribute to the scarcity of women in senior positions in the accounting profession are outlined below. MECHANICAL TIME LAG

Some authors believe the different times the males and females entered the accountancy profession can better account for the scarcity of women at the top. That is to say since men entered the profession earlier than women, this can explain the disparity between the two in terms of career progression. Bradley (1989) indicates that the accounting profession has always considered being male’s profession. This findings by Bradley, is similar to the study carried by Wootton (1994) which investigated the role of women in public accounting profession in US during the World War II. This study shows that women were discouraged from entering the profession as it was regarded a man’s job. It is only during the World War II that women were needed by the accounting firms as a result of more men going to war. Even after the end of war firms resorted to hiring man leaving the woman in the dark to return home. Ciancanelli (1990), argues that women entering an organization dominated by males face the difficulty similar to those faced by new immigrants: “arriving at a place where the rules has been laid by the dominant group”. Moreover he explains that it is the scarcity of the women as a group and not the fact of being a woman that explains the difficulties women face as they progress in the accounting profession. However one has to ask themselves if the women in the industry with already laid rules cannot be able to play by the rules and become the industry leaders....
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