The Gendered Production of Audit Quality
University of Antwerp
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Vrije Universiteit Brussel VUB
January 15, 2011
CAAA Annual Conference 2011
Audit quality is a much studied issue. Recently, various auditing researchers have looked at the idea that audit quality may be systematically related to the auditor being male or female. Although this seams a genuine research question, the approach adopted by these researchers (incorporating ‘sex/gender as a variable’ into the research design) is highly problematic in nature and offers little to our understanding of complex social behavior. In this paper, we argue that female auditors are likely to experience subtle, but frequent stereotype threat because audit firms make gender salient. Little is known about how individual behavior inside audit firms might affect audit quality. From research on stereotype threat we know, however, that people produce stereotypical behavior in a self-fulfilling way when gender is made salient. Arguably, the display of stereotypical masculine (e.g., competitiveness) and feminine (e.g., nurturing) behaviors affects the production of audit quality. Using a qualitative methodology (based principally upon a program of semi-structured interviews), we investigate if audit firms elicit male-female behavioral differences that give rise to the production of gendered audit quality. Our findings demonstrate the manner in which the background gender frame becomes powerfully relevant in shaping the way people act upon their role as auditor. The paper identifies four (broad) themes that foster a systematic relationship between audit quality and the auditor being male or female: (1) the commercial side of auditing, (2) game-playing, (3) disappointment with the audit firm, and (4) the networked professional.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 26
Keywords: Gender, Audit Quality, Audit Firms, Organizational Embedding
JEL Classification: M42, J160working papers series
Date posted: January 16, 2011 ; Last revised: June 5, 2011
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