Does Board Gender Diversity Affect Audit Fees? The Role of Female Directors’ Attributes

Gull, Ammar Ali
Nekhili, Mehdi
Nagati, Haithem
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In this study, we apply the system GMM estimation approach on the propensity score matched sample of 394 French firms over the period 2002-2010 to examine the relation between board gender diversity and audit fees. In addition to this, we explain the channel through which female directors affect audit fees by considering the role of their specific (statutory and demographic) attributes. Initially, we find that gender diverse boards pay higher audit fees. However, the consideration of specific (i.e., statutory and demographic) attributes in analysis changes the nature of the association between female directors and audit fees from positive to negative. This suggest that the simple presence of female directors is a necessary but not sufficient condition, because for improving the effectiveness of internal control system or enhancing the integrity of financial reporting process individuals must have particular competencies and skills. With regard to how female directors affect audit fees, we find that female directors with business expertise and prior experience reduce the need for assurance provided by external auditors which results in less audit fee. However, female chairs and audit committee members demand incremental audit effort from external auditors to ensure audit quality which translates in higher audit fee.
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Female directors, Statutory attributes, Demographic attributes, Audit fees.
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