Research on gender and finance finds that women chief executive officers (CEOs) are relatively risk-averse and more ethical than their male counterparts. These differences are often presented as reasons for lower earnings management by firms led by women. A strand of contrasting literature however finds the notions of women being risk-averse and ethical not necessarily true for women occupying top leadership positions as women successful in shattering the glass ceiling adopt behaviors like men. This study attempts to understand the differences between the ethical tendencies of the two genders by examining if CEO power impacts the relation between CEO gender and earnings management.
The authors begin the analysis using standard regressions using the propensity score matched (PSM) samples and examine if CEO power mediates or amplifies relationship between CEO gender and earnings management. The authors use ordinary least squares (OLS) regression approach and instrumental variables (IV) estimation to address the endogeneity concerns.
This study’s results suggest that the relationship between CEO gender and earnings management is mediated by CEO power. The authors find that women CEOs with lower power engage in lower earnings management. However, women CEOs with more power tend to engage in greater levels of earnings management than their male counterparts.
This study contributes the finance literature by showing women leaders successful in occupying top leadership positions are not necessarily more risk averse and more ethical. Less powerful women CEOs are subjected to potentially higher levels of scrutiny and are forced into an environment where they have to be seen as ethical. However, powerful women face the same concerns as their male counterparts and not necessarily more ethical.
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