Why Can’t Girls Do CA

I am a CA qualified. Cool, right? Well, I am also a woman living in Pakistan.

So, Is it a brave, difficult or just plain stupid choice?

Well, I am working in a firm with a supportive spouse and encouraging family and in-laws, so it is possible. I am enjoying my job, have a nice family life and some time to myself also at the end of the day. But at the same time, other girls in CA or considering it may not be as fortunate.

Is Accounting Just for Boys?

This is a fact, women are discouraged from the world of accounting, finance and auditing. Is the act of computing numbers just for boys? 

98:2 CA Male to Female Ratio?!

The statistics speak for themselves. Just a few years ago, the ratio of CA Girl to Boys was 98:2. This statistic (which I truly do not know if it has any real validity) was drilled into my head as a young A-level student by instructors, tuition teachers and relatives alike. Is it true?

The Reality

 Well, let me tell you this. Initially, I scoffed and refused to believe it, but when I joined a CA academy and walked into a classroom full of boys, I realized the cold, harsh truth in the number. There was just one other CA girl besides me, and she dropped out to get married two years later. I was the 2%. This is an absolutely shocking number, but you accept it as reality once you attend classes and start working at a firm.

Why is this the case? Well, that’s simple.

Gender-based Discrimination

Our society is oppressive towards women and them being independent in any way. There are traditional gender roles enforced on women, and only a few lucky ones (re: me) get to escape the vicious cycle. Others get berated out of the field, or married early, never fully finishing their CA.

Common Sayings for Female CA aspirants

When girls start their CA, there's too much criticism from family and relatives. I myself was a victim of these comments when heard relatives or aunties at weddings share their thoughts, including but not limited to the following:

The General Pakistani Mindset

This is a prevalent mindset of more traditional Pakistanis. You may find a lot of the men and women sharing such thoughts to hail from older generations i.e boomers and older. But still, it is not uncommon for this thought process to exist in the younger generations.

28 Year Old (Single) Female CA Qualified? Too Old for Marriage!

The age that women attempting the CA eventually qualify  is 28 years of age, which is considered prehistoric in terms of marriage to a lot of Pakistanis. A lot of people suggest to female CA aspirants to do just their CA Inter and they get married, or if they are lucky, work in a firm for a few years. Sooner or later, the female CA aspirants are encouraged to quit. I’ve seen a few girls get married and do their CA Inter only. The girls have to carefully consider the pros and cons- generally: a job or social cohesion. A lot of girls are encouraged by their family and friends to finish their CA. On the other hand, some husbands discourage it also, because the jobs are tough. But the difficulties won't stop when they join. If their age increases and if their CA is not finished by then.
Are there more Female CA Graduates Today Vs. 10 Years ago?

Like I stated earlier, back in the day, just 2% of the entire CA population of Pakistan were CA graduates. Over the past few years, there has been a surge in the female CA aspirant population, with almost a 30% increase of women in the CA pool. In comparison, while the increase may seem vast, in isolation, girls are still ⅓ of the entire CA population.

Here’s How CA Firms Are Making The Numbers Worse

 Chartered Accounting firms perpetuate these disappointing numbers. There exist firms to this day with not a single female hire, with some firms intensely discouraging these hires. How do we know? Well, these firms don’t try to hide it. If you are a CA aspirant, you know all about the Facebook CA groups made for job hunting. Most of the time, there are specific posts for male-only positions. There have at times also been female-only positions, but most of the time, those are far in between.

Why do Firms Prefer Male CA Aspirants?

Well, most of the time, they are just comfortable in the male-domainted environment and don't really care much, as it is benefiting them. Other times, they want to maintain the status quo. Perhaps they do not think girls are capable enough. 

A lot of the time, you need to make field visits to out-of-station cities or in far flung areas. Families and firms discourage this most of the time, and in turn, hire less girls. 

In any case, these distinctions are extremely unfair and are not conducive to an equal-opportunity workplace, reducing employment opportunities for well deserving female candidates. 

What is the Solution Then?

Girls need encouragement and need to be mentally prepared for all the challenges ahead of them. You need to ask yourself: Do you love this field? Do you wish to work in a firm and do you really desire this future? If your answer is a resounding yes to all above questions, then this is the place for you. And I will not sugar coat it. There will be struggles. There will be almost an unbelievable amount of criticism sometimes. And sometimes, you will regret your vastly difficult  choice. But consider it a test,and eventually you will reap what you sow. Your years of hard work and strong attitude will pay off a few years down the line.

It is bitter sweet, but the same relatives who judged you and discouraged you from the field will appreciate you and brag about you to other relatives and their friends. You just need to stay above the rest and keep your head up high. Also, it is important to consider, if you put in enough effort and determination, you can finish your CA qualification  in a short amount of time. Nowadays, it is heartwarming to see a relatively increased number of girls joining CA. This change encourages and inspires other girls to go for the field also. NOw there is also solidarity in the field, with an increasing female CA community, which again makes the degree and job seem relatively more surmountable. 

With this expanding number of female students, eventually the mindsets of Pakistanis will also change, making the 2% a oppressive statistic of the past. The female CA Students of this generation will have to struggle for the next crop of students, but eventually will take us to a more inclusive, progressive Pakistan, where men and women can live equally; regardless of any kind of difference.