Despite being a minority, female auditors do a better job than men

The number of audits carried out by women in Spain has tripled over the last eight years. In addition to an increase in the number of women providing audit services, females also perform this work more effectively than their male counterparts, according to a recently published study in the Journal of Business Research.

“The results of the study indicate a higher quality of financial information in audits carried out by women, as they contain less discretionary accruals and irregular values than those that have been performed by men,” said Diego Ravenda, the study’s co-author and an Accounting and Financial Analysis lecturer at TBS Barcelona. 

However, in 2015, reports headed by women accounted for less than 20% of the total. “The article intends to emphasise the need to correct this imbalance by supplying data that demonstrate the value of having women perform this work”, pointed out Ravenda.

The researchers have identified a potential justification for their results in other studies, such as one that was published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. It concluded that men take on anywhere between 28% and 68% extra risk compared to their female counterparts. A second study published in Accounting Horizons suggested that men demonstrate excessive confidence in a larger number of cases.

TBS lecturer, Diego Ravenda, believes that these psychological characteristics could potentially influence the judgement of auditors and, consequently, the standard of their work: “Accounting must be conservative, prudent. When there is more prudence, meaning that better verification of the accounts is performed, overstating is avoided and the work is therefore of a higher quality”.

The study, which has identified a gender-based effect on the standard of auditing services, includes an analysis of over 90 Spanish companies that are listed on the stock exchange spanning a period of eight years.


Scientific studies referenced:

Garcia-Blandon, J.; Argilés-Bosch, J.; Ravenda, D.: “Is there a gender effect on the quality of audit services?”, Journal of Business Research, Volume 96, March 2019, Pages 238-249.

Charness, G; Gneezy, U.: “Strong Evidence for Gender Differences in Risk Taking”, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 83, Issue 1, June 2012, Pages 50-58.

Ittonen, K.; Vähämaa, E.; Vähämaa, S.: “Female Auditors and Accruals Quality”, Accounting Horizons, June 2013, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 205-228.


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