Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the moral awareness and ethical virtue of current university students with a view to identifying whether there are any gender differences. Design/methodology/approach – The study analysed undergraduate responses from final year honours student cohorts, one from a degree in accounting and finance ( n =51), the other from a programme in business studies ( n =79), to a series of value statements and a number of academic and business‐related scenarios. The study employed a Kantian approach to ethics. Findings – Accounting students who had been exposed to ethical educational interventions do not display a higher level of moral awareness or ethical intention than their business counterparts. Whilst gender differences were apparent, this was only evident for moral awareness not ethical virtue and only the case for business students, thus suggesting that gender id may have more explanatory power than biological gender. Research limitations/implications – The sample size was small as the study was restricted to relevant class populations and hence may not be generalisable. In addition, a gap may exist between what students state they would do in a situation and their actual behaviour. Practical implications – Further work is required which concentrates on gender id rather than biological gender and examines why feminine moral awareness would appear to be higher than the masculine but converges for ethical intention. Originality/value – The study presents a comparative analysis of two different student cohorts which enables a more detailed investigation of gender differences, initially for moral awareness and then ethical virtue.
Pacific Accounting Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 1, 2009
Keywords: Ethics; Gender; Accounting; Accounting education; Degrees
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