Cooper, K., Accounting by Women: Fear, Favour and the Path to Professional Recognition for Australian Women Accountants, School of Accounting & Finance, University of Wollongong, Working Paper 14, 2007.
This paper traces the campaign by women in Australia to gain admission to accounting bodies. The opposition to female membership of accounting bodies is set within the context of views of the abilities and place of women at the time. In general, women had neither the nature nor the intelligence for the commercial world. Even if women were mentally equipped for commercial work, this was contrary to nature because women should be companions to men not competitors. However, two crises saw the beginning of the acceptance of women as members of accounting bodies. One such crisis was the monetary impact on existing accounting bodies of not enough members to pay membership fees. The second was the First World War. While many accounting bodies in Australia had opened membership to women by 1915, the Australasian Corporation of Public Accountants followed the lead of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and did not admit women until forced to do so by legislation. The paper demonstrates that even though many men thought that men and women should have equal opportunities, many others actively or passively resisted any movement that would allow women to compete with men within the workplace including the profession of accounting. For almost forty years, women faced opposition to access to all accounting bodies in the UK and Australia on the basis that the rights of men were favoured and a fear that these rights would be compromised if women had equal rights to compete in the workforce.