Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Waterloo’s Nobel Prize embarrassment

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I suspect most of my readers do not follow the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Physics as I do (the intellectual dilatant that I am)!  However, the lessons from the University of Waterloo’s Department of Physics embarrassment over the awarding of the Nobel Prize to a 22 year Associate Professor is instructive to accounting departments!  What happened: the Nobel Prize was awarded to an associate professor, a very rare occurrence.  Why was SHE an associate professor – SHE never got around to applying for promotion (and likely nobody encouraged her to)!  So Waterloo has a bit of egg on its face for showing a potentially sexist face to the world by having an associate professor be its first Nobel Prize winner (note she has been a tenured associate professor for 22 years and heads a very academically vibrant and successful lab at Waterloo – no doubts about merit here)!

Unfortunately we see this all too often in accounting groups in North America and in other parts of the world that use the three (assistant professor to full professor) or four tier system (lecturer to full professor) on an application basis for promotion.  After the mandatory tenure review, it is often up to the individual to apply for further promotion.  Guess what?  Women and people of colour (racialized minorities or whatever the correct term is in your part of the world – as I have learned it varies substantially) do not apply as frequently or as promptly as white men do!  I have been involved in several cases where the Department Chair and I (at universities around the world) almost literally had to twist the arm of the person to go up for promotion!!!

So look around your area!  Are there women or racialized minorities that have been Associate Professor for longer than seven to ten years yet have a very strong post tenure record?  Encourage them and encourage your colleagues to encourage them to go up for promotion. Why? The world needs more examples of successful women and people of colour to encourage the next generation of doctoral students to believe that excellence is possible no matter what your background!  This should not just be an individual decision (often folks do not want to go through the paperwork and uncertainty of putting themselves up to be judged) but a community one!  Okay, that’s my two cents . . . . .


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