Gender Differences in Crime

Crime is an offense, eyed as an illegal component in the society. In criminology, women always received less importance than men. Studies relating women and crime gathered prominence only from 1970s (Aiken, 1988). A scholarly approach in studies leaves an impression that gender is a major correlate to crime. We are in an era where female vie for equality with men in every aspect of life. Women script their achievements in all walks of life. The world witnesses women equaling and excelling in all departments to bridge the gender gap.

Crime is unlawful and it imposes punishment on perpetrators. History maintains clean records on women’s growth and their inverse relation to their crime rate. A rough idea of what men is, characterizes men as a stronger sex with intelligence, courageousness and determination. On the other hand women are known to be more emotional with virtues like chastity, modesty, compassion and piety. We have more theories and propositions substantiated with empirical evidences to discuss about gender differences in crime. Statement of the problem

While crime is viewed as a deviant behavior violating socially accepted norms by both sexes, the gender differences in crime persists due to various factors like differences in crime rather than criminality, biological, social and cultural factors, development of social cognition, and political-legal acts rather than scientific procedures. It is proved that offending is substantially less prevalent in females. Purpose The goal of this study is to analyze various reasons for the existence of gender differences in crime. Since long men were considered to be the stronger sex with intelligence, courageousness and determination.

Women were considered to be more emotional with virtues like chastity, modesty, compassion and piety. Though there is no concluding evidence of a single factor responsible for the differences in crime, this study touches on discussions by various authors on crime and criminality, biological, social and cultural factors, social cognition, political-legal acts, etc. to arrive at an answer to the chosen statement of the problem. Significance of the study Along with various theories and propositions by different authors, this paper presents you with statistical data suggesting the percentage variation in crimes committed by men and women.

This paper gives you a moderate opinion about gender differences in crime based on facts available and throws hints at how gender differences in crime could vary in the future. Research questions and/or hypotheses 1) What are the different crimes both sexes are prone to commit? 2) How did the social setup during different times influence male and female and their opportunities to commit crimes? 3) What are the factors responsible for gender differences in crime? 4) What do we conclude about the gender differences in crime based on empirical data gathered throughout?

5) Is there any clue on what sort of gender differences in crime are obvious in the future based on this study? Literature Review Crime is defined as a behavior resulting in violation of law. More often the definition of crime has its root from political-legal acts rather than from scientific procedures (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990). Women are more afraid of crime and they try to be preventive. The differences in women and men’s socialization experiences have implications for both feminist theory and the ability of the political parties to use crime issues to their advantage (Hurwitz & Smithey, 1998).

Gender is a major correlate to crime. Men are more likely to commit white-collar crimes than women. In the modern world, women have the opportunity to commit such crimes as they outnumber men in many jobs. Considering the fact that women spend more time with children and other people, their opportunities to commit assault should also be more but in reality it is not (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990, p. 147). When the opportunities to commit crimes are curtailed, higher rate of fraud is revealed only among males (Gottfredson & Hirschi 1990, p. 146). According to Aiken (1988, p.

79) females would commit more crimes had they received the opportunity. Women are motivationally similar to men. This can be seen when women started indulging in fraud, embezzlement, forgery and many forms of property crime as they gradually moved into occupational carriers which was limited only to males before. As they are demanding for equal opportunity status, the sense of freedom is interpreted as liberation to indulge in crime (Aiken, 1988, p. 80). Though opportunity based explanations account for property crime in both genders, such explanations lack credibility when applied to violent conduct.

Women are no more moral than men, nor more concerned about suffering. All that matters is only the chance to act as bad as men (Aiken, 1988, p. 80). Most of the people who are executed for witchcraft between twelfth and seventeenth centuries in Europe, England, and Scotland were women. This creates an opinion that women are evil, deceitful, and untrustworthy. Were it not for constant vigilance and control of women, female deviance would be rampant. There are beliefs that women became primary targets because of their evil minds (Aiken, 1988, p. 79).

Rutter, Giller and Hagell (1998) point out that girls have been more harshly treated than boys by the criminal justice system though the labeling theory professes that women are less likely to be deviant. Gender differences in behavior analogues to crime are similar to those found for crime, implies that the role differences account for behavioral differences (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990, p. 147). According to Miller, motor vehicle accidents, drowning, burning, falling, alcohol and drug abuse are found to be more common in men then in women (cited in Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990).

Except prostitution, females have lower arrest rates than males. This is true of all countries and of all ages. Since 1960s in the United States, the female arrests have been less than 15% for homicide and aggravated assault, and less than 10% for the property crimes of burglary and robbery. Since 1970s, property crimes such as the larceny-theft, fraud, forgery and embezzlement recorded 30 to 40 percent female representation. This suggests that the percentage of increase in female crime has been increasing faster than male crime between 1960 and 1975.

Shoplifting, bad checks, welfare and credit fraud are also the kinds of crime women are involved. According to Steffensmeier, the major property crimes remain less than 10% to 15%. However, the percentage of female arrests decreased for other categories like homicide and prostitution; and it has increased for other categories such as aggravated assault and drug law violations. Reports also confirm relatively low female involvement in serious offenses and greater involvement in the less serious categories. Females are less involved in serious offense categories, and they commit less harm.

Women’s acts of violence, compared to those of men, result in fewer injuries and less serious injuries. Their property crimes usually involve less monetary loss or less property damage. According to Daly, Steffensmeier, Ulmer, and Kramer, women’s involvement with offensive groups is relatively less and they’re not permanent whereas males are dominant in organizing crimes. Female involvement is less in delinquent gangs. Some studies suggest that by 1980 and 1990s there is an increased involvement of girls, about 15%, in gangs. However, female in gang violence is far less compared to male gang violence.

The tendency of the justice system towards females is less lenient nowadays and this explains the recent increases in levels of female arrests. There’s a very small difference between adult women and men in likelihood of arrests. However, women have lower probability of being jailed. This difference appears to be related to a variety of factors: pregnancy, responsibilities for small children, the greater likelihood to demonstrate remorse, as well as perceptions that women are less dangerous and more amenable to rehabilitation (Daly; Steffensmeier, Ulmer, & Kramer).

There are obvious crime differences between men and women, such as rape and prostitution, and equally obvious differences between them in the sanctioning of deviant behaviors, such as the differential consequences for boys and girls of premarital pregnancy. This suggests that gender differences are mainly due to differences in crime rather than criminality, and the differences in opportunity may account for much of the male-female difference in crime rates (Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990, p. 147). Farrington (cited in Rutter, Giller & Hagell, 1998, p.

257) shows changes in gender ratio with age using UK and US statistics in Figure 1. Figure 1. The sex difference in crime, male/female ratios at different ages. Mainly, the difference in crime is expressed in terms of seriousness. The recent British criminals statistics on 10-19-year olds showed sex ratios ranging from 13. 2:1 for burglary, through 10. 4:1 for drug offenses, 9:1 for criminal damage, 7. 5:1 for robbery, 4:1 for violence, and 2. 4:1 for theft (Home Office, 1996). According to Monck and New, sexual assaults of all kinds are largely committed by males (cited in Rutter, Giller & Hagell, 1998).

The recent British Home Office (1996, 1997b) figures highlight the differences between males and females in recidivism and duration of criminal careers. Young women are less likely to have more than one conviction and less likely to be severely recidivist. Thus, analysis of the offender index concluded that, of those born in 1953 who appeared in court by their early 30s, 78% of the young women did so only once, compared with 55% of the young men. Only 6% of young women offenders, compared with 20% of young female offenders, have at least five convictions.

A quarter of young male offenders but only 3% of young female offenders have a criminal career extending over a period of at least ten years. Females are less likely to have more than one offense and less likely to be seriously recidivist; they’re also less likely to have been convicted of a serious offence during their offending career, as the sex ratios by offence type indicate. According to Farrington, the peak age for crime in males was 13 years in 1938, 14 in 1961, and 15 in 1983-somewhat paralleling the rise in the age for the end of compulsory schooling (cited in Rutter, Giller & Hagell, 1998).

The time trend for females moved in the opposite direction over the same time period dropping from 19 in 1938 to 14 in 1983. Farrington in his official statistics showed a peak age of offending of 15 for females and 18 for males (cited in Rutter, Giller & Hagell, 1998, p. 259). The available set of empirical data to identify all reasons for the gender differences in crime is beyond the scope of this research. One of the interesting studies leads to contemplate the differences as biological, social and cultural factors.

Views about gender differences stem from classical thoughts, ideology, and contemporary science and medicine. Men and women were thought to inhibit bodies with different physical set up possessing fundamentally different qualities and virtues. The breakdown of homicides for the murders committed in the United States in 1999 is shown below: Male offender /Male victim 65. 1% Male offender /Female victim 22. 4% Female offender /Male victim 10. 1% Female offender /Female victim 2. 4%

Yet another interesting study by Bennett, Farrington and Huesmann (2005) relating social cognition to gender differences in crime and violence states that deficiencies in cognitive capabilities alone do not cause crime. Certain ways of processing social information and certain social cognitive memory structures have to protect the individual from personal, environmental, or situational treasures towards criminal behavior. Women acquire social cognitive skills earlier in life than men do because of better pro-social skills.

Some researchers suggest that female are not necessarily less aggressive, but they tend to show their aggression in less overt, less physical ways. They may display more verbal and relational aggression such as social rejection. In summary, offending is substantially less prevalent in females. The gender difference is least evident for violent offenses in adult life. It is unlikely that women would take to violent crimes in the future except for individuals of exceptional cases. Definition of Terms 1. Crime – An act in violation of the penal laws of a state.

A positive or negative act in violation of the penal law. 2. Criminology – The scientific study of crime and criminal behavior and the law enforcement. 3. White Collar Crime – A non-violent crime generally for personal gain and often involving money. A crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation. 4. Gender – A designation of the sex: male or female. 5. Recidivism – Habitual relapse into crime. 6. Cognitive – The part of mental functions that deals with logic, as opposed to affective which deals with emotions.

7. Homicide – Killing of a human being by another human being. Methodology This study examines the gender differences in crime based on various factors such as crime and criminality, biological, social and cultural factors, social cognition, political-legal acts, etc. to arrive at a conclusion. Information in the form of historical evidences, solid data, scholarly approach to the studies combined with analytical views, are presented. Different sources that are largely in common but subtle in variations on a single theme are selected to interest the readers.

The study also presents you with statistical data from reliable sources followed by interpretations based on accepted theories that allows the reader to foresee the measure of crime between male and female in future. Discussion and Conclusion On record, crime is more prevalent in men than in women throughout the history of mankind. If men are more violent in areas such as rape, murder, driving accidents, alcohol, and drug abuse, women indulged in property crimes that usually involve less monetary loss or less property damage.

The other crimes women indulge in are less severe causing less harm. Arguments in favor of women with regard to their cognitive development and their biological nature on the one side and the counter arguments such as their propensity to indulge in crime similar to that of men if opportunities available, and their viciousness in the form of witchcraft that led to the killing of many women in Europe between 12th and 17th century are valuable information for an analysis on gender differences in crime.

However, the feminist theories, the social dispositions, the individual perspective on crime, etc. leave enough room for pros and cons on the chosen subject. Solid data available through history, and a normative approach to the studies let us think that the gender differences are like to continue the same way with slight variations in the near future. References Aiken, S. H & (1988). Changing our minds: feminist transformations of knowledge. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. 171 pp. Bennett, S. , Farrington, D. P. & Huesmann, L. R. (2005).

Explaining gender differences in crime and violence: The importance of social cognitive skills. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10, 3, 263-288. Cullen, F. T. & Wright, J. P. (2006). Taking stock. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers. 468 pp. Gottfredson, M. R. & Hirschi, T. (1990). A general theory of crime. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press. 297 pp. Hurwitz, J & Smithey, S. (1998). Gender differences on crime and punishment. Political Research Quarterly, 51, 1, 89-115. Lawrence, G. A. , & Snell, T. L. (1999). Women Offenders, 1, 2, 4. Rutter, M. , Giller, H.

& Hagell, A. (1998). Antisocial behavior by young people. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 478 pp. U. S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Homicide Trends in the U. S. , “a series of statistical tables and graphs published online, January 2001, available at http://www. ojp. usdoj. gov/bjs/homicide/gender. htm.. Gender in the Proceedings. Retrieved April 14, 2009 from http://www. oldbaileyonline. org/static/Gender. jsp Retrieved April 13, 2009 from http://law. jrank. org/pages/1250/Gender-Crime-Differences-between-male-female-offending-patterns. html