HOPKINS V. PRICE WATERHOUSE
In 1983, Ann Hopkins was nominated for promotion to partner with Price Waterhouse.
Hopkins, a senior manager in the firm at the time, seemed to have excellent credentials for a
In fact, of the 88 individuals nominated for partner that year, Hopkins had
generated by far the most client revenues for the firm.
Hopkins was also unique in that she was
the only female among the partner candidates.
Unfortunately for Hopkins, she was not promoted
to partner and was subsequently told that she had little chance of being promoted in the future.
After resigning from the firm in 1984, Hopkins began to question why she was denied the
promotion to partner.
Eventually, she decided to sue Price Waterhouse, claiming that she had
been rejected for partnership on the basis of her gender.
After a lengthy trial and several appeals,
one of which was ruled on by the Supreme Court, Hopkins was awarded $400,000 in
Price Waterhouse was also ordered to offer Hopkins a partnership
position, apparently the first time in U.S. history that a court had handed down such an order.
The principal purpose of this case is to focus attention on several issues facing women
entering the public accounting profession.
Probably the most perplexing of these issues is the
difficult task of successfully managing a professional career and having a family.
an energetic mother of three small children during her tenure at Price Waterhouse, achieved a
good balance between her home life and professional work role.
Another challenging issue that
women public accountants face is the dominant male culture that pervades many CPA firms.
Hopkins’ case, she was apparently forced to deal with a work environment in which sexual
stereotypes dictated how she was expected to behave.
In fact, a court ruled in her civil suit that
Price Waterhouse had evaluated her as a candidate for becoming a female partner with the firm
rather than simply a partner.
That is, there was an expectation that female partners and female
partner candidates behave in a feminine manner, which was not Hopkins’ style.
many other women in the profession, also had to cope with the lack of female mentors.
early in her career, Hopkins had been forced by the nepotism rule of her original employer,
Touche Ross, to leave that firm so her husband would have an opportunity to be promoted to