Boosting Accounting Careers: Overcoming Stereotype Threat and Enhancing Belongingness

In the rapidly evolving world of accounting, a recent study sheds light on two crucial factors influencing accounting students‘ commitment to the profession: the sense of belonging and the impact of stereotype threat. Cristina Bailey, Serena Loftus, and Sarah Shonka McCoy delve into this topic in their article, „Do I Belong? The Impact of Belongingness and Stereotype Threat on Professional Commitment to Accounting,“ published in the 2023 issue of Issues in Accounting Education.

The research highlights a concerning trend in the United States: the declining number of new entrants into the accounting field, despite a growing demand for graduates. This imbalance poses a significant challenge, emphasizing the need to attract and retain new talent in the accounting profession.

Central to this study is the concept of stereotype threat – the anxiety or concern individuals may experience when they fear being judged or stereotyped based on their social identity. This threat can be particularly pronounced among students from historically underrepresented groups in accounting. The study explores how this stereotype threat, coupled with the sense of belonging (or lack thereof), impacts students‘ commitment to pursuing a career in accounting.

Interestingly, the research finds that students experiencing higher levels of stereotype threat tend to have a lower sense of belonging in the accounting community. This diminished sense of belonging, in turn, negatively affects their professional commitment. These findings are critical for educators and professional organizations aiming to foster a more inclusive and diverse accounting profession.

The authors conducted their research through a survey of 92 accounting students, employing a structural equations model to analyze the data. The results showed a clear link: increased feelings of belonging enhance professional commitment, while stereotype threat diminishes it. Furthermore, the study reveals that interventions aimed at professional socialization can significantly boost students‘ sense of belonging.

This research is a vital contribution to understanding the dynamics of professional commitment in accounting education. It underscores the importance of creating an environment where all students feel they belong and are free from the burdens of stereotype threat. For educators and professional organizations, this study offers valuable insights and strategies to nurture a more diverse and committed workforce in the accounting sector.

For a deeper dive into this fascinating study and its implications, you can read the full article here.