Gender is not “a dummy variable”: a discussion of current gender research in accounting

Kris Hardies, Rihab Khalifa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the corpus of gender research in accounting journals, with the overall aim of evaluating the extent to which it has contributed to the understanding of the organization of accounting and its social and organizational functions. Design/methodology/approach: Gender articles have been critically analyzed. The selection included all gender papers published between the years 2000 and 2014, in 58 journals ranked A*, A and B from the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) journal ranking list. Patterns within the publishing norms of those journals were identified and critically reflected upon. Findings: Gender research has been grouped into three categories, namely, gender as a dummy (or control) variable, gender as giving voice and gender as a process and organizing principle. Of these three categories, it can be contended that using gender as a dummy variable is very common, and it proved to be the least fruitful in explicating the roles of gender in accounting. Moreover, many published papers confuse sex with gender. Research limitations/implications: This paper discusses future avenues and approaches for research gender in accounting without, however, expanding on recent changes in gender research. Originality/value: This paper is the first to systematically review gender research in the accounting field over the past three decades. Its key insight is to identify two persistent pitfalls within the current gender research practice, namely, the use of gender as a control variable only and the confusion of sex with gender. These pitfalls diminish the value of gender research overall and render it less relevant to the broader accounting literature. By using the term gender either as an add-on or, mistakenly, as a biological rather than cultural marker, the totality of those articles helps marginalize gender as an accounting research area because they fail to bring about the reconceptualization of accounting as a discipline. This stands in marked contrast to the achievements of gender approaches in other disciplines, such as sociology, history or work and employment. Articles that frequently decry the status of gender in accounting research turn out to be also reinforcing the marginalization of gender in accounting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-407
Number of pages23
JournalQualitative Research in Accounting and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 30 2018


  • Accounting journals
  • Gender in accounting
  • Marginalized research areas
  • Women studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Accounting


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