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6 Powerful Women In The Accounting Field

Many people may associate accounting more with men, but women have made notable achievements in this growing field, which we detail below.

So, if you’re a woman thinking about becoming an accountant or CPA, just work hard, study for the CPA exam, and your dream can become a reality.


Christine Ross

Ross was the first woman to become a CPA in the United States; she passed New York’s CPA examination in 1896. The state took months to release her scores because of her gender, but they put her among the top scores in her class.

By 1899, she received her certificate that proved she was the first female CPA in the country. Some of her many clients included wealthy women and those who worked in the fashion and business fields.


Mary Washington

Mary T. Washington became the first African-American woman to earn her CPA designation in 1943, and she was the 13th black in the country to be a CPA.

Washington, a native of Chicago, started her storied career as a teller in a Chicago bank, one of the country’s most prominent financial institutions owned by African-Americans.

Washington earned her undergraduate degree in business from Northwestern, and she founded one of the biggest black-owned accounting companies in 1968.


Mary Murphy

Murphy had a storied career in accounting and business, publishing more than 20 books and dozens of journal articles. She was only the second female to earn a doctorate in accounting and was the first woman to get her CPA in Iowa.

Over the years, Murphy earned many chances to be director, chair, and professor at many top US universities and business organizations. In addition, the trailblazer helped lead the way for many American women to become leaders in the accounting industry.


Mary Smith

Smith was the first female chartered accountant in the world. She began her accounting studies at age 16, but she was rejected by universities and companies because of her gender.

She founded her accounting practice in 1890, and tried to be a member of the Society of Incorporated Accountants and Auditors. Unfortunately, her membership was rejected because she was a woman.

It took many years for the laws to change, and Smith continued to work as a chartered accountant, but she was finally admitted when she was 72.

Helen Lord

Lord earned her CPA in 1934 in New York, and became a member of the American Society of Certified Public Accountants. That organization later became part of the American Institute of Accountants in 1936.

Lord became a partner in the accounting firm Lord & Lord in New York and was manager of the journal The Woman CPA.

Ellen Eastman

Eastman started as a mere clerk in a lumber business in Maine and eventually became its chief accountant. Every night, she studied for the CPA examination and was the first female in Maine to earn that designation in 1918.

Also, Eastman was the first female to start a public accounting firm in New England. She moved to New York in 1920 and focused her practice on tax work.

Women In Accounting Today

There were few women in the accounting field in the early 1900s, and only 1% of CPAs were female in 1940. But today, women are more than 50% of all graduates in accounting.

However, there is still much work ahead: Today, only 19% of partners at major accounting firms are women. Progress has been made, but we hope that more women enter and lead the accounting field in the coming years.






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