Tasmania’s first female accountant says society has come a long way

22 Mar, 2013

Gold Coast resident Rick Sonners was Tasmania’s first female accountant and she stands tall as the achievements of women are celebrated for International Women’sDay.


When she was just 17 years old Rick told her mum she would like to be an accountant and her mother responded, “Well why don’t you?”


Rick says she was the first Tasmanian female to enter the profession in 1952 and says society has come a long way since.


“The men in my course were filled with shock and horror when I entered the lecture room for accountancy with them,” Rick says.


“One man didn’t speak to me at all over the four years we were studying together as he was in disbelief that a women was also planning to become an accountant.


“At that point, female accountants were unheard of, so I didn’t have it easy.


“Right from the start I knew I was going to have to be really good at what I do, because being female was a major drawback.”


Rick says working at Commonwealth Bank while she was studying was an excellent start before working the payroll for the Marine Board of Hobart.


“I’d landed my first major accounting role at 21 years old at the Marine Board of Hobart where there were hundreds of people on the payroll,” Rick says.


“I had a very big responsibility for my age in that role, and I got very involved with all of the unions associated with the different tradesmen on the board.


“I was very lucky to be given this opportunity in those days, as I just wanted someone to give me an opportunity.”


Rick says after moving to NSW in 1957 to start a family of two kids, she set up her own practice in Sydney in 1965 when her children were of school age.


“I did tax and accounting work for a lot of major clients, many interstate, and it was a marvelous experience,” Rick says.


“By this point, people respected me as an accountant and trusted me. I was always picking up new clients through word of mouth.


“It didn’t matter how big or small my client was, they were all important to me.”

Rick says through her career, it wasn’t always easy being a woman.


“You felt like you were getting your head pushed under the water all of the time,” Rick says.


“Over the years, however, I saw a great improvement in the acceptance of women in professional roles, and the progress of women.


“While I felt like I was fighting to be a part of what was a ‘man’s world’ I knew within myself that it was important to stay feminine and be good at what I do.”


Rick is now 82 years old however she only retired from her career a few years ago, just before moving into Seachange Village Arundel in 2011.


“I moved to the Gold Coast to be close to my daughter and I love the climate here all year round,” Rick says.


“The community here is just brilliant, everyone supports one another and gives a helping hand.


“After a long career, it’s a really lovely place to be with such nice and genuine people.”


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