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The role of women accountants and the implications for the accounting profession in Saudi Arabia

The role of women accountants and the implications for the accounting profession in Saudi Arabia
The role of women accountants and the implications for the accounting profession in Saudi Arabia
This study investigates the experiences of women accountants working in the Big Four accounting firms in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), to extend our knowledge of issues related to gender and accounting. Within the Saudi social context, gender experience is a shifting set of multiple experiences, where gender and religious and cultural aspects are interrelated and influence how accounting or auditing is practiced. Studying the dominant social context and its origins helps in understanding issues related to gender and accountancy, and identifying processes that reproduce gender domination and hinder women’s ability to access and progress at work. This study adopts a qualitative exploratory research design. In-depth semi-structured interviews with 42 female and male accountants working in the Big Four firms in the KSA are carried out, supported by documentary analysis and observations (observing women’s dress, the physical environment they work in, and their interaction with other staff). The data are analysed using thematic analysis and this study draws on feminist critical theory to understand the process of change taking place in the accounting profession in the KSA.

The analysis of the data reveals that, despite the growing interest in women’s integration into KSA society, they continue to face various difficulties in joining the profession and gaining access to professional practice. Women’s recent access to the accounting profession has brought changes to accounting practices, with formal and informal gendered organisational practices (such as segregated space, and limited audit assignments) contributing to sustaining male dominance in the profession. These practices are strongly rooted in local socio-cultural traditions that overlap with
selective interpretations of religion, and thus shape women accountants’ experiences in how they perceive change. Most of the barriers and exclusionary practices (such as gendered norms of working hours and socialising with clients and peers) are informal in the KSA; yet they are very visible and inform/direct how the formal practices (such as appraisal and mentoring practices) are reproduced within accounting firms.

The study offers an understanding of how professions evolve differently in different countries, how accounting firms operate today, and how the globalisation of practice in accounting firms has its limits. The study presents new ways of thinking about change, and argues that women’s desire for change is a key aspect in the process of change taking part in the Big Four in the KSA. Change’ relates to, and is constructed by, one’s perceptions of the cultural, political, economic and social fabric of a society. Consequently, Saudi women accountants are experiencing accountancy and changes thereof in terms of phases, and whereby they see themselves as being part of the process of change within the profession. They are willing to be patient in order to open the way for others and achieve their desired change.
Alsalloom, Abeer
6cc94ce4-6149-49db-a642-2f2553c7beca
Alsalloom, Abeer
6cc94ce4-6149-49db-a642-2f2553c7beca
Soobaroyen, Teerooven
6686e2f8-564f-4f7f-b079-9dc8a2f53a48

Alsalloom, Abeer (2015) The role of women accountants and the implications for the accounting profession in Saudi Arabia. University of Southampton, Southampton Business School, Doctoral Thesis, 373pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This study investigates the experiences of women accountants working in the Big Four accounting firms in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), to extend our knowledge of issues related to gender and accounting. Within the Saudi social context, gender experience is a shifting set of multiple experiences, where gender and religious and cultural aspects are interrelated and influence how accounting or auditing is practiced. Studying the dominant social context and its origins helps in understanding issues related to gender and accountancy, and identifying processes that reproduce gender domination and hinder women’s ability to access and progress at work. This study adopts a qualitative exploratory research design. In-depth semi-structured interviews with 42 female and male accountants working in the Big Four firms in the KSA are carried out, supported by documentary analysis and observations (observing women’s dress, the physical environment they work in, and their interaction with other staff). The data are analysed using thematic analysis and this study draws on feminist critical theory to understand the process of change taking place in the accounting profession in the KSA.

The analysis of the data reveals that, despite the growing interest in women’s integration into KSA society, they continue to face various difficulties in joining the profession and gaining access to professional practice. Women’s recent access to the accounting profession has brought changes to accounting practices, with formal and informal gendered organisational practices (such as segregated space, and limited audit assignments) contributing to sustaining male dominance in the profession. These practices are strongly rooted in local socio-cultural traditions that overlap with
selective interpretations of religion, and thus shape women accountants’ experiences in how they perceive change. Most of the barriers and exclusionary practices (such as gendered norms of working hours and socialising with clients and peers) are informal in the KSA; yet they are very visible and inform/direct how the formal practices (such as appraisal and mentoring practices) are reproduced within accounting firms.

The study offers an understanding of how professions evolve differently in different countries, how accounting firms operate today, and how the globalisation of practice in accounting firms has its limits. The study presents new ways of thinking about change, and argues that women’s desire for change is a key aspect in the process of change taking part in the Big Four in the KSA. Change’ relates to, and is constructed by, one’s perceptions of the cultural, political, economic and social fabric of a society. Consequently, Saudi women accountants are experiencing accountancy and changes thereof in terms of phases, and whereby they see themselves as being part of the process of change within the profession. They are willing to be patient in order to open the way for others and achieve their desired change.

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More information

Published date: March 2015
Organisations: University of Southampton, Southampton Business School

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 377942
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/377942
PURE UUID: 62df552b-ce7a-4428-b9b7-753664d4abbf

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Date deposited: 13 Jul 2015 10:38
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 04:30

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Contributors

Author: Abeer Alsalloom
Thesis advisor: Teerooven Soobaroyen

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