Gender is Not 'A Dummy Variable': A Discussion of Current Gender Research in Accounting

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management (doi: 10.1108/QRAM-08-2017-0083)

22 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2009 Last revised: 10 Jun 2020

Date Written: January 7, 2018


The purpose of this article is to reflect on the corpus of gender research in accounting journals, with the overall aim of evaluating the extent to which it has contributed to our understanding of the organization of accounting, and its social and organizational functions. A critical analysis was undertaken of a selection of gender articles. The selection included all gender papers published between the years 2004–2014, in 58 journals ranked A*, A, and B from the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) journal ranking list. Patterns within the publishing norms of those journals were identified and critically reflected upon. We grouped gender research into three categories, namely: gender as a dummy (or control) variable, gender as giving voice, and gender as a process and organizing principle. Of these three categories, we contend that using gender as a dummy variable is very common, and proved to be least fruitful in explicating the roles of gender in accounting. Moreover, many published papers confuse sex with gender. Research limitations/implications: This paper discussed future avenues and approaches for research gender in accounting without, however, expanding on recent changes in gender research. This paper is the first to systematically review gender research in the accounting field over the last three decades. Its key insight is to identify two persistent pitfalls within current gender research practice, namely, the use of gender as a control variable only and the confusion of sex with gender. These pitfalls diminish the value of gender research overall and render it less relevant to the broader accounting literature. By using the term gender either as an add-on or, mistakenly, as a biological rather than cultural marker the totality of those articles helps marginalize gender as an accounting research area because they fail to bring about the reconceptualization of accounting as a discipline. This stands in marked contrast to the achievements of gender approaches in other disciplines, such as sociology, history, or, work and employment. Articles that frequently decry the status of gender in accounting research turn out to be also reinforcing the marginalization of gender in accounting.

Keywords: Auditor Gender, Sex, Gender, Gender Differences, Sex Differences, Audit Judgment

JEL Classification: M42, J16, B54

Suggested Citation

Hardies, Kris and Khalifa, Rihab, Gender is Not 'A Dummy Variable': A Discussion of Current Gender Research in Accounting (January 7, 2018). Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management (doi: 10.1108/QRAM-08-2017-0083), Available at SSRN: or

Kris Hardies (Contact Author)

University of Antwerp ( email )

Department of Accounting and Finance
Pleinlaan 13
Antwerp, 2000

Rihab Khalifa

Independent ( email )

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