Cooper, K. and Kurtovic, A, Mary Addison Hamilton, Australia’s First Lady of numbers, School of Accounting & Finance, University of Wollongong, Working Paper 19, 2006.
In the early 20th century, the restriction of women entering the accounting as well as other professions was common, yet Australia’s first lady of numbers, Mary Addison Hamilton (Addie) has also been Australia’s forgotten pioneer. Addie became the first woman admitted to membership of a recognised professional accounting body in the British Commonwealth during a time when women’s admission to the accounting arena was strongly discouraged. This paper will attempt to explain why it is that Addie’s outstanding achievement has gone unnoticed by the modern day accounting profession rating no mention in Australian accounting history literature. Was it a case of inadequate historical research or an intentional rewriting of history so not to cause disrepute? The influence that the formative years have had on modern day accounting is a historical occurrence that this paper will explore. Taking a radical feminists view we argue that ignoring Mary Addison Hamilton and other women who sought membership of the profession in its formative years is a continuation of privileging the position of men in the accounting profession. Using intimidating discourse, women were discouraged from joining the accounting profession despite undertaking important roles behind the scene. The penchant to remain elite has influenced the profession to ignore the effect that female pioneers such as Addie had on the formal professionalisation of accounting.