Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Do Male and Female Accountancy Chairs Perceive Ethics and Communication the Same?

Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Do Male and Female Accountancy Chairs Perceive Ethics and Communication the Same?

Article excerpt

A SURVEY OF MALE AND FEMALE ACCOUNTING PROGRAM CHAIRS EXAMINES THE EFFECTS THAT THEIR GENDER HAS ON THREE ISSUES: THE PERCEPTION OF THE NEED TO STUDY ETHICS AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN THE BUSINESS AND ACCOUNTING CURRICULA, THE PERCEIVED AMOUNT OF ACTUAL CLASS TIME SPENT AND THE IDEAL CLASS TIME THAT SHOULD BE SPENT ON THESE CONCEPTS, AND WHERE ETHICS SHOULD BE TAUGHT IN THE ACCOUNTING CURRICULUM.

The question of whether men and women in the accounting profession view ethics and communication differently has been raised before, but the importance of these skills to the profession combined with the changing demographic profile of the profession make it time to reexamine the issue. In their 2006 article, "Gender Imbalance in Accounting Academia," Charles Jordan, Gwen Pate, and Stanley Clark found that the proportion of female accounting administrators and deans had increased significantly between 1994 and 2004. The percentage of female accounting program administrators increased from 7.1% to 16.7 %, and the percentage of female deans increased from 2.6% to 14.6%. In 2004, women held 24.5% of all tenure-track accounting faculty positions at the institutions surveyed, while the ratio of women to men in the accounting practice or accounting students in the classroom was closer to 50%. (1) If there is a difference in how male or female accounting faculty and department chairs perceive or apply ethics and communication in their teaching, it will soon begin to affect the profession.

Professional organizations have stressed that both ethics and communication are critical to accounting. For example, a recent article in Management Accounting Quarterly provided practitioners with an instrument to help measure and improve ethical perceptions in their organizations. (2) AACSB International (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) strongly recommends that accredited schools include ethics education in the business curriculum, and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) advanced a proposal in 2005 to require a separate course in ethics within the accounting curriculum in addition to the one required in the business curriculum. Although the proposal was later withdrawn, it indicates the increasing concern for including ethics instruction in accounting education. Going back to 1989, the then Big Eight accounting firms published a paper that emphasized the importance of communication skills within both the business and accountancy curriculum. (3) Finally, in its Vision Statement for 1998, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) included communication as one of the seven personal core competencies required of entry-level accountants. (4)

The critical issue that remains for the accounting profession is whether these concerns have been implemented within accounting education programs and how uniform the implementation has been from institution to institution. In a previous study, we examined whether accreditation (AACSB or non-AACSB) or institutional charter (private or public) affected how program chairs perceived the importance of ethics education and its implementation. (5) In this article, we will examine what effect, if any, an accounting chair's gender has on his or her perceptions of ethics and communication and how these skills are taught in accounting and general business programs.

RELATIONSHIP OF GENDER TO ETHICS AND COMMUNICATION

Previous studies on gender differences have had mixed results. Much of the research has used the defining issues test (DIT) to assess moral development. Michael Shaub found that female auditors in senior and management roles had higher moral development scores than male auditors in the same positions. (6) Using a sample of auditors from large, midsize, and small auditing firms, John Sweeney found that the females in senior and management auditor roles also had higher moral development than their male counterparts. …

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