Gender and Crime

Most research into crime has concentrated on male illegality because of the disproportionate number of men participating in crimes. Women's criminality, though, deserves just as much attention. Understanding the grounds why women execute lower crime rates than men can shed light on the root motives for crime and provide strategies for reducing it. The analysis of racial dynamics and illegal activity begins with a historical look at how male and female offenders stack up against one another.

How are Gender and Crime Related?

When looking at larger periods or more specific categories or places, there is little difference between the arrest rates of men and women. Therefore, decades, groups, or locations with high (or low) percentages of male crime are also likely to have high (but rather low) percentages of female crime. For example, throughout the second decade of the 20th century, male and female arrest rates skyrocketed for larceny theft while falling even more for public intoxication. Wherever the arrest rate for men is greater than average, the arrest rate for women is similarly higher than usual.

Gender Parity in Offending Rates and Trends

Arrest rates for violent crimes, such as homicide or robbery, are low for both men and women. In contrast, arrest rates for property crimes, such as larceny theft, and public order offenses, such as liquor and drug offenses and disorderly conduct, are disproportionately high. In most criminal categories where men also have a disproportionately high arrest rate, women have a similar or even higher rate of the arrest. For example, incidences of homicide are modest for both sexes (about 17 offenders per every 1000 births, around two defendants per 100,000 females), especially opposed to theft rates, which also measure roughly 800 defendants / per 100,000 males and 380 defendants per 100,000 females.

Implications Regarding Civic Responsibility Including Moral Advancement

In contrast to men, women are less prone to commit crimes out of consideration for others. Possible causes include innate variations between the sexes in moral education and the upbringing of both sexes toward a heightened capacity for empathy, awareness of the concerns of others, and aversion to the prospect of being apart from those they care about (Gilligan). This inclination toward an "ethic of care" prevents women from engaging in violent or otherwise harmful actions toward individuals they care about. In contrast, men are more likely to establish an amoral ethic whenever they feel their attempts to achieve social status have been frustrated.

Social Control

Women face formidable barriers to committing a crime due to social norms and expectations. Young girls, especially, are subject to stricter monitoring and more severe punishments for deviant behavior. Boys are encouraged to take risks, but girls are often punished. If carefully monitored, girls are less likely to be influenced by their delinquent peers. Adult women still face barriers while trying to pursue their interests in the outside world.

Physical Strength and Aggression

Women are at a deficit in the criminal underground because of the importance placed on physical strength and violence. Strength and physical prowess serve various purposes, including but not limited to the commission of crimes, the safeguarding of valuable assets, the enforcement of contracts, and the recruitment and administration of trustworthy companions.


In addition to the classic "double standard," disparities in reproductive sexuality also lead to a higher incidence of sexual perversions and adultery among men. Conversely, women can engage in criminal activity to meet the demand seeking illicit sex by engaging in prostitution. As a result, fewer women may resort to committing heinous acts of property crime. Although women benefit financially from prostitution, men dominate the industry (pimps, customers, law enforcement, and business owners).

Possibility of Committing Crime

Since women are less likely to engage in cisgendered occupations like truck driving, dock work, or carpentry, and they have fewer possibilities to engage in criminal behavior like shoplifting, drug trafficking, and fencing because of these restrictions. Conversely, there are many instances where women can commit or be apprehended for lesser crimes such as shoplifting, fraud, drug dealing, and sex for hire.

Structural Aspects of the Gender Binary Constrain Motivation

Although women's subjective propensity to commit a crime and the availability of criminal opportunities exacerbates it. Ability often inspires greater enthusiasm. Both male and female criminals prefer high-reward, low-risk crimes that are simple and well within their skill set. Women and men have different comfort levels with taking risks. Men may take risks to advance their careers or obtain an edge in the marketplace, while women may be more willing to put themselves in harm's way to shield those they care about or keep their relationships strong. Because of their superior ability to anticipate dangers to their life chances and fewer female criminality-type scripts to redirect their conduct, women are less likely to engage in criminal activity.

Context of Offending

The organization of race also influences the typically large discrepancies in the sentencing of female vs. male offenses. The circumstances of an offense, the number of other offenders present, the offender's relationship to the victim, the offender's role in initiating and carrying out the offense, the weapon(s) used, the extent of the victim's injuries or property damage, and the offender's motivation all play a role in determining the severity of the consequences. Moreover, female/male contextual differences rise with the gravity of the offen.


Most women and girls who have run afoul of the law have committed relatively small offenses, such as shoplifting, fraud, selling drugs at a low enough level to be considered "petty," or even assaulting their partners or children. Many of them engage in criminal behavior over the course of many years, resulting in multiple prison sentences. However, they do not engage in illegal activity as a way of life, and women are much less likely than men to be engaged in violent crime. These overarching conclusions are robust across many data types, engagement, and involvement measures.

Updated on: 21-Dec-2022


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