The Ass Backward Award | AccountingWEB

The Ass Backward Award

By Dave Burt, CPA - I’m trying to persuade my 18 year old daughter to become an accountant. She’s in her first year of college and I’m trying to convince her that accounting is a rock solid profession with plenty of growth opportunity, good pay and a good field for women. She wanted to know how many accountants are women and do they make the same money as everyone else? What would happen if I got married and wanted a baby? Would that be okay? Her questions gave me pause to think and persuaded me to look into just where the accounting profession was headed.
I didn’t get far when I was hit with the fact that more than 55% of accounting students are women. (1) Wow. In my college days in the late ‘70’s we were lucky if we had 3 or 4 women in an accounting class! What a change. If estimates are correct, by 2014, the AICPA will lose to retirement, about 250,000 members (75% of its current mostly male membership)(2) and could gain 145,000 women if every alumna joins.(3)
Could that change the face of the accounting profession? Well, I’ve managed male staff accountants and I’ve managed female staff accountants and while they are technically comparable, women often bring with then different perspectives, different priorities. The following is an example: In the mid ‘80's I had an office that was next door to the financial reporting department. They had five staff accountants, all males. They also had a department award called: The Ass Backward Award---only it was written backwards. At the top of the 18” award was a gold plastic molded rear half of a mule (the ass) on two legs. Any staff accountant that made an entry backwards would be presented with the award. You were required to let it resided on the top of your cubicle for all (including those passing in the hall) to witness. Of course, boys being boys, each recipient would get a good ribbing at the mock award ceremony. For the first year or two, no one complained, not until we hired our first female staff accountant. She was a little Irish spit fire right out of college and a very good student. For some reason she was not hired by one of the big public accounting firms. Maybe not the image they wanted at the time.
After she went through a close or two she made a journal entry backwards and was presented with the award. As is the custom, it would stay with the current “winner” until someone else was awarded the honor. Well, for some reason, she couldn’t get the hang of the entries and it sat there month after month until she could stand it no longer. One morning, maybe after being ribbed one to many times, red faced, she stormed into the department manager’s office, then, apparently not getting enough sympathy, stormed down to the controller’s office. Within a short time, the award was permanently retired.
While no man worth his salt (is that saying making sense anymore?) would have complained, I think everyone was secretly glad. In the end, our new hire change the department dynamics. She moved the roughhousing outside. It was better. I think more work got done right.

(1) The Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits---AICPA 2005

(2) AICPA Annual Report 2005-2006

(3) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

This blog

by Dave Burt, CPA - Dave has held accounting management positions in both public accounting and private industry for such companies as Coldwell Banker and Maytag.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (, a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website:
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.