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Gender segregation in Scottish chartered accountancy: the deployment of male concerns about the admission of women, 1900-25

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During the first two decades of the twentieth century the chartered accountants (CAs) of Scotland were confronted by challenges to the exclusively male composition of their profession. The paper traces in depth the male-dominated discourses on the subject of the admission of women. It is shown that socio-economic, constitutional and legal arguments were deployed to resist the admission of women. The apparent public consensus among the Scottish chartered societies on this issue hid the divergent opinions which were uttered in private. Proposals for the organization of the profession in a gender-segregated manner were eventually subsumed by the passing of the Sex Discrimination (Removal) Act, 1919. This statute precluded disqualification from membership on the grounds of sex. While the Act formally removed one set of barriers to the admission of women, more enduring social and cultural obstacles remained within chartered accountant firms and most practising offices remained unaffected by the reforming legislation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-03-01

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