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Gender construction and the invisibility of women’s accounting activities: the All Nations’ Fair of 1895

Abdel K. Halabi (Federation Business School, Federation University Australia, Churchill, Australia) (Faculty of Commerce Law and Management, School of Accountancy, University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Frances Miley (School of Business, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)
Andrew F. Read (School of Business, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 23 December 2022

36

Abstract

Purpose

This research explores the historical nexus between accounting and gender to illuminate male hegemonies within accounting. It examines the nature of that hegemony at the boundary between the female domain of household and philanthropic activities and the male domain of business and finance.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative research approach is used for this historical research. The primary source was digitised newspapers from the National Library of Australia. Newspapers have been used in previous historical accounting research and are relevant in this instance because they provide the only surviving data about the All Nations’ Fair. Given that newspapers were published daily, the depth of coverage is not replicated by other archival sources, and at that time provided a strong community voice.

Findings

Women undertook the management of and accounting for the All Nations’ Fair, a philanthropic activity designed to rescue the Geelong Cricket and Football Club from its parlous financial position. Despite women undertaking the work, the management of and accounting for, the Fair was attributed to men. This reflects a gendered construction of accounting that overpowers the reality of who undertook the work.

Research limitations/implications

This research demonstrates only a single example of women’s philanthropic accounting, so is not generalisable. It suggests however that male hegemonies have exerted and continue to exert power over women.

Originality/value

The value of this paper is that historical examples serve as a corrective to histories that have ignored women’s contribution to accounting, particularly in philanthropic activities. The relationship between women’s accounting and gender also has contemporary significance. Gendered disadvantage and subjugation to a dominant masculine hegemony remain recurring themes in accounting research because they continue to impact adversely on the experiences of many women in accounting.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Garry Carnegie and members of the AFAANZ Accounting History Special Interest Group for helpful feedback on an earlier version of this paper. The authors also wish to thank the two anonymous referees for the feedback on this research.

Citation

Halabi, A.K., Miley, F. and Read, A.F. (2022), "Gender construction and the invisibility of women’s accounting activities: the All Nations’ Fair of 1895", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-09-2021-5442

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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