This study analyses gender differences in the auditing profession stereotype and how these differences impact the intention to work in auditing. The results of the study carried out among Spanish business students reveal the existence of relevant gender differences in the perception of the auditing profession and how factors, such as the perception of auditing as a demanding career or the interest in auditing work, affect men and women differently in their intention to enter the profession. These results contribute to the auditing stereotype as well as gender literature as very few previous studies have delved into the existence of gender differences in the auditing stereotype literature. This study has relevant implications for audit firms. They may apply different strategies for women and men talent attraction and retention in their organisations, which will reduce present and future voluntary rotation, and may increase the benefits that diversity generates in audit firms.
Today, attracting talented professionals means incorporating diversity (ACCA, 2020) and in particular, gender diversity. The vast majority of studies conducted in recent years reveal the benefits of having an increasing number of women in management and decision-making positions in companies. These benefits refer to increased profitability and financial results (ACCA, 2020; Dhir, 2015; Grant Thorton, 2019; ILO, 2019; Post and Byron, 2015), increased innovation and creativity (Cox and Blake, 1991; Fogelberg Eriksson, 2014; Østergaard et al., 2011; Pauli et al., 2020), improved employee relations leading to increased job satisfaction and organisational commitment (Ghani et al., 2018; Larrieta-Rubín de Celis et al., 2015) and even improved corporate social responsibility (Ben-Amar et al., 2017; Byron and Post, 2016; Fernandez-Feijoo et al., 2014; Formigoni et al., 2020). At the local government level, a greater presence of female politicians reduces the risk of debt default (Gómez-Miranda et al., 2022).
In the auditing context, the increasing number of women in top positions may have relevant benefits in improving service quality (Cameran et al., 2018; Hardies et al., 2016). Women auditors show a higher level of independence (Bernardi and Arnold, 1997; Byrnes et al., 1999), more professional due diligence (Huse and Solberg, 2006; Jonnergård et al., 2010; Sweeney et al., 2010), higher professional scepticism (Gold et al., 2009), and lower intentions to engage in audit quality reduction behaviours (Ittonen et al., 2013; Khalil and Nehme, 2021; Nehme et al., 2021; Neidermeyer et al., 2003; Sweeney et al., 2010). The literature also suggests higher auditing fees when the partner is a woman mainly due to females’ less risk tolerance and less overconfidence, which implies a higher investment in planning and developing the audit service (Aguilar Agreda et al., 2019; Hardies et al., 2015; Ittonen and Peni, 2012).
5. Discussion of the results and conclusions
This study analyses the current perception of the auditing profession stereotype on the part of those who have to decide their career in their near future and the possible existence of gender differences in this perception. Further, this paper delves into how these differences influence the individuals’ intention to entering the profession.
The results obtained in this study suggest that a negative view of the profession can be overcome. Undergraduate business students have a positive view of the auditing profession. Students consider auditing a great responsibility that involves very structured and precise work carried out by expert, intelligent, and trustworthy people. Further, they view auditing as offering the possibility of achieving a good long-term salary and as a prestigious career with good opportunities for professional development. Our results also reveal the perception of auditing as a demanding and stressful career requiring long hours of work.
The results obtained reveal the existence of gender differences in the perception of the auditing profession. The differences exist in the perception of the auditing career, auditing work, and auditors’ image. Although both genders show a good perception of the profession, these results confirm previous research where females show a better perception than males (Byrne and Willis, 2005; Hunt et al., 2009; Marriott and Marriott, 2003; Mcdowall and Jackling, 2010).