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With girls outshining the boys in the recent ICAI – Chartered Accountants Final (Old & 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 exam 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 the male candidates is 1.32% and that of girls is 1.89%, girls are way ahead of the boys. If this trend continues for a prolonged period of time, girls are likely to make better CAs than their male counterparts" says Nihar N Jambusuria, President, ICAI.

No reservation for women

"The results are indicative of our ability to grasp the subjects well and is not based on any gender stereotype" says Nandini Agarwal, 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 to trumps. Presently pursuing her articleship with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), Nandini has plans to take up the CAT exam and the UPSC exam. "Some of them quit jobs post marriage, which is such a pity, as they run the risk of losing their identities", Nandini adds.

Can women do better as Professionals

However, it is to be taken note at this juncture that for professionally qualified women be it in CA, CMA, CPA, CIA or CS who have to quit their full time job, post marriage, can always look at an opportunity to take up another job even after a few years of marriage. Alternatively, they could also look forward for a private practice which gives the professionally qualified women a great advantage!

For 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 mind-sets are slowly changing. Inclusion of commerce subjects at school level is important to reduce the mindless craze for Science, Ruth says, adding "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 students towards this profession" The Mangalore based topper who cracked the exam in her third attempt, attributes her success to having a plan in place and breaking it down to achievable targets.

By Including Accounts at school level like Science/Arts subjects, will it not attract more students into Accounts stream, is one school of thought which can be thoroughly discussed and implemented.

Repeated attempts

The third attempt also helped Palakkad-based Malavika R Krishnan to focus on her mistakes from previous attempts. At 24, she clinched AIR 2 (Old Course) and hopes that it will serve to remind aspirants never to get disheartened with repeated attempts. "The fact that all the rank holders this year are women confirm 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 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. "In the organization where I did my articleship, they had overthrown many old rules to ensure that people with skills and talent are treated equally" she adds. This is a good sign that gender equality still persists in this professional arena, which is a welcoming sign.

Leadership skills

Confident that women can perform with the same 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, "In the current times, women have broken the glass ceiling and have been climbing the ladder of success. ICAI has taken steps to encourage women, but a lot needs to be done to inspire them to take leadership positions"

He adds further, "in our firm, more girls are working as CAs with some of them at the partner level".



It is to take note for aspirants of these professional courses that unlike engineering in leading institutions and medical courses, various reservations are a hindrance. Such limitations are not present in professional courses- CA, CMA, CS and the international like.Those hindrances never exist which can be best utilized by those aspirants to their best advantage to acquire knowledge and climb up the corporate ladder!

Mrudula Muralidharan, who has completed her CMA course conducted by ICAI by clearing both parts at Intermediate level in her first attempt and both parts of Final examination in first attempt, further by securing highest marks in Karnataka state in each level - winning six medals under sponsored category adds, "We, Women professionals in various sectors are in the attempt to remove the gender disparity that exists in the industry and society. We hope that examples such as these will inspire young women to clinch to their dreams and not let societal norms determine their path instead."

The author, V MuraliDharan is a Chief Financial Officer in a Real Estate Firm and has industry experience of over 30 years in various fields say, Direct, Indirect Taxation, Company Law, Accounting - including identifying revenue leakage, Audit and General Management & Human resources.

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Category Professional Resource, Other Articles by - Mrudula M,Co-founder-KaizenEdu