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Title: The role of women accountants and the implications for the accounting profession in Saudi Arabia
Author: Alsalloom, Abeer
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 4977
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2015
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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.
Supervisor: Soobaroyen, Teerooven Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HF5601 Accounting