Camilla Soueneta Nascimento Nganga
Doctorate – Opening paths: the construction of faculty identity of women through the trails, bridges and walls of graduate studies in Accounting
Advisor: Profª Drª Silvia Pereira de Castro Casa Nova
Comission: Profs. Drs. Lucas Ayres Barreira de Campos Barros, Simone Bernardes Voese, Sandra Maria Cerqueira da Silva and Claudia Pereira Vianna
Class: 217, FEA-5
The context of Accounting education in Brazil is marked by the expansion of undergraduate and graduate programs and by the increasing number of students registered and finishing their courses. This increase is notably attributed to women. Since 2005, the percentage of females registered in accounting undergraduate courses is higher than males. However, this percentage decreases in graduate programs and, consequently, in academic careers. (Nganga, Gouveia, & Casa Nova, 2018). In addition, the lack of focus on teaching training for females as well as their scarce contact with research development during their Accounting undergraduate programs reinforce the importance of stricto sensu or short-term graduate programs as a site of professional development for faculty in this field. In this research project, we seek to understand the construction of women faculty identities in graduate programs in the field of Accounting. These programs are characterized by low opportunities for the formation of faculty, by the focus on publications, and by masculine environments. Lester (2008) highlights that few researches address issues related to the identities of women as faculty. We consider important to describe and reflect on possible conflicts and the negotiation of one’s own identity occurring in predominantly masculine academic environments. In view of this scenario, it is relevant to analyze the experiences of women who persist in the masculine and excluding environment of Accounting, a setting that excludes them while they advance towards their academic careers. This dissertation analyzes the impact of processes of formation and socialization in accounting graduate programs as experienced by women and the construction of their professional identities as faculty. It contributes to debates on women’s faculty identities in the field of Accounting considering gender studies (Scott, 1986; 1988). Through a qualitative approach, we adopted social constructionism as epistemological perspective and feminist post-structuralism as theoretical position. We interviewed thirteen women doctoral students in different programs in the field of accounting in Brazil. Template analysis (King, 2004) was employed in the interpretation of evidences. We also analyzed five interviews with doctoral candidates in Accounting programs in the United States as counterpoint. As result we found that the development of the interviewees’ professional identities was marked by their path in their accountant undergraduate programs. This path includes professional socialization in a masculine, stressing, and demanding environment, a faculty formation that comprises teaching and research through positive and negative examples on faculty practices, and an intense pressure for publishing. For those who are mothers there is a difficult relation between maternity and academia. Finally, when reflecting about the influence of their doctoral program on their trajectory into faculty positions, these professionals show resilience. They propose of a teaching practice there is more humane and emphatic in which a doctoral program contributes to the construction of up-to-date and critical knowledge on the field of accounting. Additionally, the initial reflections about the U.S. interviewees allowed us to consider factors that are similar or distant from the Brazilian setting. For instance, in the United States, there seems to be an understanding of a doctoral program as professional practice in academia, which differs from Brazil in which the program is primarily a phase in someone’s educational formation. The process of mentorship is present on the path of the interviewees in the American context. In Brazil, however, there was no report indicating actions related to mentorship. Regarding similarities, research training was considerably marked by quantitative and positivists approaches, and teaching training was limited to activities as Teaching Assistants. In addition, the reflections expressed by the interviewees evoke aspects related to work-life balance as well as maternity and the academic environment. In this context, there is the necessity to manage impressions (Lester, 2011), which connects to the fact that the ideas related to maternity are contradictory to the image of the “ideal worker” impacting the academic identity constitution. Finally, resilience is highlighted. In the face of all the challenges they met in their paths, the women interviewed for this project are committed to what can be called subversion of the system: they not only have conviction on their goals as educators as they exceed these goals by compromising to the development of more humane relations in academia that are capable of breaking the lack of empathy and indifference reported as part of their experiences. As practical recommendations we suggest the insertion of mentorship processes to women on graduate programs in Brazil, the review of university laws regarding maternity, actions that promote balance between work and life, the creation of spaces for debates about diversity, the creation of systematized actions for the establishment of teaching and research trainings, and proposals for the care of graduate students’ mental health. For example, future research can address: (1) the faculty identities of female professors on accounting programs who are considered role models in the field; (2) teaching and research trainings from the perspective of the administration of undergraduate and graduate courses and people connected to the regulation of graduate courses (CAPES); (3) the experience of other minority groups and the impact that graduate education has in the process of construction of their professional identity.
*Abstract provided by the author