Gender, ethnicity and professional membership : the case of the UK accounting profession
The thesis aims to explore the experiences of minority ethnic women accountants in the UK through the use of the oral history method. It seeks to give visibility to the experience(s) of professional women accountants from minority ethnic communities who have to date remained largely invisible in accountancy literature. It is argued that part of the reason for this invisibility lies in the methods employed in accounting research and the operation of statistics issued by the accounting profession. The author argues that one way round this can be achieved through the use of oral history. Although recent studies in the field of accounting have focused upon issues relating to gender, much of the literature remains silent with respect to qualitative material which illuminates women's lived experiences of accountancy. Furthermore, the experience(s) of women accountants from minority ethnic communities is invisible in the accountancy literature. This is because much of the literature ignores cultural diversity and treats women as a homogenous group, that is white and middle-class. This invisibility is reinforced further as women from minority ethnic communities are absent from the official gender statistics which are (re)produced by the accounting profession. Five oral histories are presented, explored and analyzed, together with the author's own life history. It is suggested that an exploration of oral narratives cannot take place without acknowledgment and making visible of the researcher's own life history and presence in the construction and exploration of oral narratives. The empirical material in the form of oral narratives reveals the presence of various invisible and visible forms of gender and ethnicity which appear to operate through a variety of forms in the structured work and workplace of accounting. Some possibilities for making issues of gender and ethnicity visible in accountancy are further explored.