Breaking Barriers: Women Who Shaped Accounting History

This Women’s History Month, we’re looking back. Come with us as we learn about three incredible women who changed the accounting profession forever: Christine Ross, Mary T. Washington, and Dr. Larzette Hale. 


Christine Ross

As America’s wealth and industry grew in the late 19th century, so did the demand for skilled accountants. However, standards and guidelines for the profession were scarce until New York began offering the CPA Exam in 1896. 

Among those drawn to this emerging field was Christine Ross, a Nova Scotia native who relocated to New York with a clear ambition: to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). In June 1898, seizing the opportunity, 23-year-old Ross sat for the exam, placing in the top three of her test group. 

Despite her success, Ross encountered obstacles. While her male counterparts swiftly received certification, her scores remained undisclosed. Finally, on December 21, 1899, the New York Board of Regents awarded her Certificate No. 143, making Ross the first female CPA in the United States. 

Mary T. Washington 


Mary T. Washington, born in Mississippi in 1906, made history in 1943 as the first Black woman in the U.S. to earn her CPA license. Facing early hardships, she found solace in education and excelled in mathematics, eventually embarking on a career at Binga State Bank.

Arthur Wilson, a pioneering Black CPA, encouraged her to pursue a business degree at Northwestern University. Despite challenges in finding employment due to racial discrimination, she established her successful practice and became a mentor and advocate for aspiring Black professionals. 

Washington’s legacy as a trailblazer  and mentor resonates beyond her lifetime, inspiring future generations of accountants. 

Dr. Larzette Hale 


Dr. Larzette Hale holds a significant place in accounting history. In 1955, she became the first Black female CPA to earn a doctorate in accounting, a milestone that underscored her dedication and commitment. 

Before her retirement in 1990, Dr. Hale led the Utah State University School of Accountancy for 13 years, demonstrating her leadership and passion for education. She also served as the national president of the American Woman’s Society of CPAs and Beta Alpha Psi, further solidifying her influence in the accounting community. 

Dr. Hale’s journey from adversity to achievement is a testament to her remarkable contributions to the field. Her distinguished career, spanning 43 years, earned her recognition by the American Institute of CPAs as one of the most influential CPAs ever.  


These extraordinary women broke barriers, defied expectations, and paved the way for future generations of accountants. Their stories of perseverance, achievement, and empowerment continue to inspire us. 

Share this blog post to commemorate Women’s History Month and ensure that these remarkable women’s contributions are celebrated and remembered.

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