The impact of female directors on earnings management and the moderating effect of board quality: enabler or deterrent?

Nafisah Yami*, Jannine Poletti-Hughes, Khaled Hussainey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: The authors motivate this research on the gender diversity of the board because of the recent increases in the number of women in top executive teams (Francis et al., 2015), which has probably been the result of the adoption of legislation for gender quotas as well as the establishment of corporate governance recommendations for gender diverse boards in several countries. The purpose of this study is to consider the quality of board directors when examining the effect of female directors on earnings management. 

Design/methodology/approach: The analyses follow the system generalized method of moment to address endogeneity concerns (e.g. a board with higher quality is more likely to have female directors on board and vice versa). Besides the lags of the endogenous variables, the authors use the female industry ratio as an additional instrument (Liu et al., 2014), as female directors might be inspired by other female directors according to industrial sectors (measured by the two-digit industry codes), where competitors are likely to follow gender diversity practices of other firms within the same industrial sector. 

Findings: The authors’ findings show a negative and significant association between board gender diversity and earnings management (EM), suggesting that independent female directors are the drivers of such effect. High-quality boards decrease the incidence of EM but hinder the potential involvement from female directors towards reducing EM. The incumbent effect of high-quality boards on female director’s contribution on EM reverses with less powerful CEOs. 

Originality/value: The authors contribute to the extant literature by recognizing that the effectiveness of a female director on decreasing EM is a function of the environment in which decision-making takes place (i.e. board quality/powerful CEOs).

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Financial Reporting and Accounting
Early online date21 Jun 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 21 Jun 2023


  • Board quality
  • Earnings management
  • Gender diversity
  • Independent female directors
  • Transparency

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