With girls outshining the boys in the recent ICAI Chartered Accountants Final (Old Course & New Course) examination held in July 2021, the scales may be tipped in their favour career-wise. “While the pass percentage of male candidates in the July 2021 exams is 13.22% and that of girls is 10.31% in the New Course, girls have done better in terms of the merit list. In the Old Course too, where the pass percentage of male candidates is 1.32% and that of girls is 1.89%, girls are way ahead of the boys. If this positive trend continues for a prolonged period, girls are likely to make better CAs than their male counterparts,” says Nihar N Jambusaria, president, ICAI while talking to Education Times.
No Reservation for Girls
“The results are indicative of our ability to grasp the subject well and is not based on any gender stereotype,” says Morena’s Nandini Agrawal, AIR 1 (New Course) topper. “The number of girls joining the big audit firms are increasing every year and they are even serving as senior partners in the Big 4s. The CA exams are a level playing field with no reservation for girls. It may not get any tougher than this in the corporate world,” says the 19-year-old who believes in being proactive to come up trumps.
Presently pursuing her articleship from Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), Nandini has plans to take CAT and the UPSC. She is also applying for jobs through online portals and negotiating off-campus placement offers. Her grit, she says, is true of most women CAs with their ability to multitask and stay focused. “Some of them quit jobs post marriage, which is such a pity, as they run the risk of losing their identities,” Nandini adds.
For Mangaluru’s Ruth Clare Dsilva (25), AIR 1 (Old Course), CA is all about the individual calibre and has little to do with gender. She agrees, though, the finance field is still male-dominated where mindsets are slowly changing.
“Inclusion of Commerce subjects at the school level is important to reduce the mindless craze for Science/Arts. We are taught Science and Arts subjects till class X but only get introduced to Accounts and Economics at the pre-university level. Including it at the school level would attract girls towards the profession,” says Ruth who cracked the exams in her third attempt thinking it was her last and gave it her 100%.
The CA Finals in July 2022 was also Malavika R Krishnan’s third attempt, but she chose to focus on her mistakes from previous attempts. At 24, the Palakkad-based girl clinched AIR 2
(Old Course) and hopes that it will serve to remind aspirant never to get disheartened with repeated attempts. “The fact that all the rank holders this year are women confirms that we are striving hard to accomplish our dreams. In the profession where it takes multiple attempts, women securing top ranks show that we can overcome societal pressure to prove our worth,” she says.
Optimistic about women CAs post-pandemic where hybrid work culture is gaining prominence, Malavika says it will bridge the gender gap as women will not have to take career breaks. The Dan Brown fan is upbeat about modern workplaces, as she currently plans to work in the industry and pursue MBA at a later stage. “In the organisation where I did my articleship, they had overthrown many old rules to ensure that people with skills and talent are treated equally,” she adds.
Confident that women can perform with the same level of competence as men, and in certain aspects, can even outperform them, Vivek Krishna Govind, senior partner, Varma & Varma Chartered Accountants, and past chairman, ICAI Ernakulam branch, says, “Over the past few years, the glass ceiling is breaking down and women are climbing the ladder of success. ICAI has taken several steps to encourage women to enter the profession though a lot more needs to be done to inspire them to take up leadership positions.” He adds further, “In our firm, there are more girls than boys who are pursuing CA and they are performing exceedingly well at work and in their exams. We also have women partners whose careers are on an upward swing.”