This article explores three issues limiting Indonesian women’s higher participation in the upper echelons of public accounting careers. The methods of unstructured interviews with women working in Indonesian public accounting practices and a literature review on the issue of cultural and historical influences on Javanese women are used to contextualise this study.

This paper finds that social norms were repeatedly mentioned as barriers to full professional engagement by the women interviewed. Firstly, the (historically and culturally informed) issue of what constitutes “proper” female behaviour was an issue. Secondly, and linked to the first point, the competing burdens of Javanese women’s expected domestic role versus the requirements of her profession was also raised as a block to women with families being able to be as committed to their profession as most of their male contemporaries. From the literature review, a third barrier, the lack of appropriate role models, was also found.

No generalisability is claimed for this study. In particular, the interviews used as a basis for this article took place in Java and Indonesia is acknowledged to be a culturally diverse nation.