SOCIAL REPRESENTATIONS OF COLLEGE APPLICANTS: (RE)CONSTRUCTING THE STEREOTYPE OF ACCOUNTING PROFESSIONALS
Keywords:Accounting profession. Social representations. Stereotypes. College applicants.
AbstractProfessional stereotypes are the result of the social representations constructed in a determined social and cultural context that orient people and social groups in the understanding of professional roles. That is, stereotypes can influence the choice of a profession, notably among teenagers. In the case of Accounting professionals, the prevailing social representations do not attribute a very attractive image to them. The traditional stereotype of an accountant is characterized predominantly as a conservative and relatively inflexible male. Since social representations are constructed in determined historical contexts, stereotypes also change depending on them. This study examines the social representations of college applicants, for the purpose of analyzing their opinions regarding the Accounting profession, to compare them with the traditional stereotype of these professionals. For this purpose, a descriptive survey was conducted among 807 prospective college students who had just finished taking their entrance exams, using the photo-questionnaire tested and validated by Azevedo (2010). The aim was to find out whether the social representation of these college applicants corresponds to the traditional image of the accountant, in the current context of change that permeates accountancy. The results indicate a possible shift in the stereotype, based on the social representations of the respondents. In other words, the accounting professionals are not negatively stereotyped by the college applicants regarding the variables investigated in this study, as follows: “creativity”, “dedication to studies”, “teamwork”, “communication”, “leadership”, “risk propensity” and “ethics”. These representations obtained at the moment of choosing a major, and hence a likely profession, are important, since these college applicants constitute a new generation, whose vision of the world differs from that of previous generations and indicate a congruence with the changes that have occurred in Accounting, the market and society in general.
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