Do Women Engage in Less Earnings Management than Men?: The Case of Privately Held French SMEs

32 Pages Posted: 8 May 2015

See all articles by Francois Belot

Francois Belot

Université de Cergy-Pontoise

Stephanie Serve

University of Cergy-Pontoise - THEMA

Date Written: May 7, 2015


This study investigates the effect of a CEO’s gender on his/her decision to engage in earnings management. We focus on private small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a code-law accounting framework, namely, that of France. From a sample of 30,476 French SMEs for the year 2012, we use discretionary accruals as a proxy for earnings quality. We first provide evidence that French private SMEs manage earnings: the average value of discretionary accruals is above 9% of total assets. In accordance with our gender hypothesis, we show that, regardless of the model used, firms run by female CEOs engage in significantly less earnings management than firms run by male CEOs. This result is robust to various tests for endogeneity. Moreover, we highlight a negative effect of the feminization of top management on the level of discretionary accruals. Finally, we consider another observable CEO characteristic, namely, age. We find that CEO age is negatively correlated with the magnitude of accruals, but the effect of gender remains significant.

Keywords: small business, earnings management, accruals, gender, CEO characteristics

JEL Classification: G34, M41

Suggested Citation

Belot, Francois and Serve, Stephanie, Do Women Engage in Less Earnings Management than Men?: The Case of Privately Held French SMEs (May 7, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Francois Belot

Université de Cergy-Pontoise ( email )

33 boulevard du Port
Cergy-Pontoise Cedex, 95011
+33 1 34 25 62 33 (Fax)

Stephanie Serve (Contact Author)

University of Cergy-Pontoise - THEMA ( email )

33 bd du Port
Cergy Pontoise, 95011


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