Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Accounting and Finance


A “glass ceiling” blocks the highest position levels and excludes women from career advancement in the professions in Indonesia. The issue of women’s inequality and lack of career progression in the public accounting industry remains a serious issue to be addressed. Despite being offered opportunities to study accounting at University level as never before, women are failing to strive for promotion and partnership in Indonesian accounting firms and government accounting departments to an alarming extent. In fact, in the Indonesian accounting profession, women work almost exclusively in secondary roles such as in routine compliance work, bookkeeping and clerking positions with only a few women obtaining the highest levels in the Indonesian accounting profession even though there are now a dramatically increased pool of women obtaining accounting degrees and joining the professional work force. The question of why this has happened is a critical one for the future of women in Indonesian professional accounting.

This study uses ethnography because this is an appropriate method for the study of women’s daily life and helps us to make sense of our surroundings. Through telling the story of women who are involved in the public accounting profession in Indonesia, this study provides an illustration of the “glass ceiling” and makes visible new knowledge in relation to understanding women’s role in the profession which perhaps could not be identified by using more traditional mainstream accounting research methodology.

This study found that women have different experiences of the profession than their male counterparts and this study seeks to allow the voices of these women to be heard in an attempt to demonstrate the lived experience of the phenomenon of exclusion and avoidance in the public accounting profession. Women interviewed for this study spoke of the pressures and influences preventing them from reaching the top level in the public accounting profession in Indonesia. Social and individual self image and the prominence of aspects of historical background, Javanese culture, religious traditions and government political power were found to have powerful to influences on women’s willingness and ability to engage in their chosen profession.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.