Academic journal article Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal

The Underrepresentation of Women in Accounting Academia

Academic journal article Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal

The Underrepresentation of Women in Accounting Academia

Article excerpt


The shortage of accounting faculty has been well documented (e.g. Fogarty and Markarian 2007; Plumlee et al. 2006; Marshall et al. 2006). The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) predicted in 2003 a shortage of 1,100 professors by 2007 that will more than double to a shortage of over 2,400 professors by 2012. Similarly, a report from the American Accounting Association (AAA) and the Accounting Programs Leadership Group (AAPLG) indicates that for the academic years 2005 through 2008, the overall supply of new accounting Ph.D. graduates is only 49.9 percent of those demanded (AAA/AAPLG Ad Hoc Committee 2005). Compounding the problem, over half of accounting academics are 55 or older (Hasselback 2006). The shortage of accounting faculty not only presents a professor shortage problem in the classroom, but also "a real threat to the very core of collegiate business schools and institutions of higher education scholarship" (AACSB 2003).


Concerns about the small proportion of women in academic careers have been raised over the last 40 years. Women are now 45 percent of the undergraduate students in business (AACSB 2008). Since 1986, women have been the majority of accounting graduates and new hires in public accounting (AICPA 2004). Similarly, female accounting Ph.D. students represented over 39 percent of the respondents of the survey done by the AAA/AAPLG Ad Hoc Committee (2005). However, evidence shows a low proportion of women accounting faculty members were hired at doctoral institutions in the past (Collins et al. 1998). Likewise, there is an underrepresentation of women in business academia, especially at the higher ranks. According to AACSB, in the 2007-2008 academic year the proportion of female faculty was 28 percent overall, and only 15 percent of full professors in business schools were women. Females apparently are not progressing in rank as quickly as their male colleagues. There also appears to be a lack of a critical mass of female accounting academics at individual universities (Almer and Single 2007).

Prior research identifies many potential causes of the shortages of accounting faculty, including the following reasons: relatively high entry-level salaries in CPA firms, low doctoral student stipends, weak math preparation of accounting students at the undergraduate level, a lack of positive cash inflows from Ph.D. programs to the institution, and other factors (Fogarty and Markarian 2007; Plumlee et al. 2006). The potential self-selection of accounting faculty members based on perceived academic environments, including diversity issues, is discussed in the recent Weisenfeld and Robinson-Backmon (2007) study as being of greater concern given the shortage of accounting professors. In light of the shortage of accounting faculty and the perception in other fields of women as being less committed than men, this study attempts to address whether the societal bias against females is so innate that even female accounting faculty members perceive female students to be less committed than male students.


In the 1970s, psychology researchers established that some women who succeeded individually in male-majority environments were likely to oppose the movement for women's rights (Staines, Tavris, and Jayartne 1974). Several studies found that women in majority-male work environments perceived themselves as being different from women in general and as pursuing individual goals rather than goals that impacted a group (Tajfel and Turner 1979; Branscombe and Ellemers 1998). Therefore, there are circumstances in which females are more likely to view other women in gender-stereotypical roles (Lyness 2006; Catalyst 2007). They may also simply not want to jeopardize the system in which they are successful. Conversely, women who were frustrated in their attempts to move ahead in male-dominated workplaces were more likely to endorse women's rights and affirmative action (Tougas et al. …

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