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    Antecedents and Consequences of Perceived Gender...
    research summary posted September 17, 2015 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 05.0 Audit Team Composition, 05.04 Staff Hiring, Turnover and Morale, 05.10 Impact of Diversity - e.g., gender - on Group Decision Making 
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    Title:
    Antecedents and Consequences of Perceived Gender Discrimination in the Audit Profession.
    Practical Implications:

    The authors’ findings provide public accounting firms with critical factors that can enhance gender equality. Specifically, the findings indicate that (1) firms that offer more support from organizational leaders, (2) firms that provide higher levels of support for alternative work arrangement initiatives, and (3) firms that provide stronger ethical climates are each negatively associated with perceived gender discrimination, suggesting that organizational climate factors have a strong impact on female auditors’ perceptions of gender equality. The findings suggest that female accounting professionals must reach high-status positions within the organizational structure to substantively influence perceptions of gender equality. Public accounting firms should encourage formal and informal mentoring relationships targeting female auditors. 

    Citation:

    Dalton, D. W., J. R. Cohen, N. L. Harp, and J. J. McMillan. 2014. Antecedents and Consequences of Perceived Gender Discrimination in the Audit Profession. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory 33 (3): 1-32.

    Keywords:
    alternative work arrangements, audit profession, ethical climate, female partners, gender discrimination, organizational citizenship behavior, turnover intentions
    Purpose of the Study:

    The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of workgroup composition factors and organizational climate factors on perceived gender discrimination, along with the impact of perceived gender discrimination on several critical organizational outcomes. The authors test a theoretical model of perceived gender discrimination in order to;

    1. Advance theory development within gender-based research in accounting, 
    2. Stimulate future research related to gender equality in the audit profession,
    3. Provide public accounting firms with critical insights regarding the factors that contribute to gender inequality, and
    4. Highlight adverse organizational outcomes associated with gender discrimination in the audit profession.

    Turnover of female auditors leads to a loss of expertise, which, in turn, can reduce audit quality, leading to adverse organizational outcomes. In addition, recent evidence suggests that female audit partners more effectively constrain earnings management by their clients; however, female auditors are more likely than male auditors to leave public accounting prior to reaching the partner level. Therefore, gaining a better understanding of how perceptions of gender equality impact female auditors’ turnover intentions is particularly important. Existing research suggests that organizations that promote gender equality and gender diversity engender high-quality teamwork environments that foster creativity and innovation, resulting in higher levels of organizational performance. Therefore, given the relative importance of high-quality teamwork environments in the audit profession, the authors seek to gain a better understanding of the factors that impact perceptions of gender equality in the audit profession.

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    This paper tests a model of perceived gender discrimination in the audit profession. The authors obtained mailing lists of female CPAs from the Boards of Accountancy in Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington. Using both email and mail requests, the authors gathered a sample of 234 female auditors employed in public accounting firms. From the mail requests, the authors received a 17.1 percent response rate. From the email requests, the authors received an 8.1 percent response rate.

    Findings:

    The results indicate that female auditors report lower levels of gender discrimination when employed:

    1. In firms with more female partners,
    2. In firms with stronger ethical climates,
    3. In firms that are more supportive of alternative work arrangements, and
    4. In firms that provide higher levels of top management support for the personal well-being of their employees.
    • The findings indicate that while female coworker compositions do not impact female auditors’ perceptions of gender discrimination, female partner compositions can, in fact, increase perceptions of gender equality.
    • These results suggest that it is not sufficient for firms to simply hire/retain more females at the staff, senior, and manager levels; instead, the proportion of female auditors in partner positions within the organizational structure must increase to substantively enhance perceptions of gender equality.
    • The results indicate that public accounting firms can impact perceptions of gender equality by cultivating specific organizational climates.
    • The authors find that perceived gender discrimination is directly associated with higher turnover intentions, thereby providing additional motivation for the promotion of gender equality within the audit profession.
    Category:
    Audit Team Composition
    Sub-category:
    Impact of Diversity (e.g. gender) on Group Decision Making, Staff Hiring - Turnover & Morale