Another Form of Discrimination

BY ELIZABETH HERNDON

It is commendable that the accounting profession is concerned with continued discrimination against certain minority groups in this country (“Still Seeking the Ideal,” JofA , Sept.99, page 75). However, based on my own experience, I feel the profession is overlooking another form of discrimination—age discrimination.

I left the military after 20 years of service and decided to start a second career in accounting and computer systems. I graduated from college with a BS degree in accounting and an AA in computer information systems. After two years, in spite of having a strong academic background in accounting, exceptional computer literacy with the ability to program in several languages, and proficiency in most computer software packages, and also having passed the law and audit portions of the CPA exam, I have had great difficulty finding work in the accounting field.

I have been told by numerous accounting professionals I have two things against me—my age and my military service. They seem concerned that I am attempting to start a second career and that so much time in the military would make it difficult to adjust to a new work environment. (I wonder who really has the “readjustment” problem in this scenario.)

I think that accounting professionals are overlooking a valuable resource when they expect the typical applicant to be 20-something and will not accept a person who deviates in any way from what they consider the norm.

While the accounting profession has come a long way with respect to discrimination against African-Americans and Hispanics, it also needs to rethink its approach to older women from different backgrounds trying to enter the accounting field.

Elizabeth Herndon
Cedarville, Arkansas

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