The Gendered Production of Audit Quality

26 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2011 Last revised: 5 Jun 2011

See all articles by Kris Hardies

Kris Hardies

University of Antwerp

Diane Breesch

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Joël Branson

Vrije Universiteit Brussel VUB

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 15, 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.

Keywords: Gender, Audit Quality, Audit Firms, Organizational Embedding

JEL Classification: M42, J160

Suggested Citation

Hardies, Kris and Breesch, Diane and Branson, Joël, The Gendered Production of Audit Quality (January 15, 2011). CAAA Annual Conference 2011, Available at SSRN: or

Kris Hardies (Contact Author)

University of Antwerp ( email )

Department of Accounting and Finance
Pleinlaan 13
Antwerp, 2000

Diane Breesch

Vrije Universiteit Brussel ( email )

Pleinlaan 2
Brussels, Brussels 1050

Joël Branson

Vrije Universiteit Brussel VUB ( email )

Pleinlaan 2
Brussels, 1050


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics