The purpose of this paper is to explore the issue of possible cultural and historical explanations of why Indonesian women’s higher participation in tertiary accounting studies has failed to lead to a commensurately higher participation in the upper echelons of public accounting careers. This paper has adopted the ideographic subjectivist approach which suggests that research should be culturally and historically informed. Women interviewed for this study repeatedly mentioned two cultural and historical barriers to their fuller participation in the public accounting profession. Firstly, it was noted that Javanese expectations of “proper” behavior in women did not lend itself to some aspects of public accounting work (the need to travel away from home and to have contact with male colleagues and clients were particularly mentioned). Secondly, Javanese expectations that women ensure the smooth running of the household made it difficult for women to devote the time and energy required for a full professional life if they also had to balance the needs of a family. 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 Indonesian women are used to direct attention to participation issues and to encourage future exploration of barriers to women’s full participation in public accounting in Indonesia.