This paper aims at identifying different causes, which contribute to gender differences in crimes. Primary focus will be made on discovering actual facts regarding the subject under consideration. However, specific attention will be paid to observations and perceptions of gender differences as a background for research. Moreover, statistical data retrieved from FBI will be reviewed in order to find out whether the abovementioned reflections are related to the real world, i.e. pointing to male-female ratio among those involved in criminal activities. In addition, the emphasis will be put on misjudging criminal activities based on gender of a suspect and drawing recommendations for avoiding such misjudgments.
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Gender is one of the major factors, which has a robust impact on determining socially appropriate behavioral patterns and developing acceptable social standards. It can be traced in all aspects of human interactions, and criminal activities are no exception. It is often believed that males are more predisposed to becoming engaged in criminal activities compared to females. Therefore, the paper at hand aims at identifying patterns of criminal activities among men and women with the focus on both perceptions of the role of gender in criminal involvement, which leads to gender-based misjudgments, and actual facts related to underlying causes of gender differences in criminal activities.
The paper at hand consists of several chapters. The first one is introductory, which sets the scene of the research. It includes a thesis as well. Second chapter is a literature review, which serves as a background for the whole study. In the third section, relevant theories are addressed. The fourth chapter reviews research methodology and study design. In sections five and six, findings are indicated and their analysis is provided. Finally, there is a concluding chapter, which the summary of the conducted research and its implications on the sphere under investigation.
Regardless of the growing concerns around the issue of discrimination, gender is one of the most significant factors leading to bias in judging criminal activities, as individuals are often misjudged due to their gender. This challenge is significantly influenced by the social acceptability of gender-related stereotypes, thus severely aggravating the problem of criminal justice.
In order to select sources for the literature review, a thorough search was conducted. Google search tool was chosen as a primary instrument for locating appropriate sources of information. There were several search requests such as women and criminal activities, men in criminal activities, gender predisposition to criminal activities, gender bias in criminal justice, male and female offenders, gender specificities of criminal activities, etc. No limitations regarding the publication of the source were imposed, i.e. both scholarly and non-scholarly studies were analyzed. Nevertheless, it was decided to refer only to papers and article published or posted since 2006 in order to guarantee that all findings are relevant and up-to-date and diminishing risks of drawing inaccurate conclusions.
Background of Gender Differences in Crime Activities
The problem of gender-based bias in viewing criminal activities has a strong social and psychological ground. It is connected to the belief that males are more predisposed to committing crimes compared to females. This assumption is true for all cultures and crime categories. In fact, it has become a socially acceptable stereotype and its nature is universal (Youth Justice Board, 2014). According to Annison, Brayford, and Deering (2015), similar perception of gender specificities of crime rates affects not only social affairs but also the sphere of justice and crime prevention, as more attention is paid to male-focused strategies for decreasing crime rates. However, it is critical to point to the fact that women became involved in traditionally manly activities (Youth Justice Board, 2014). That is why supporting gender bias in judging criminal activities is irrelevant in the modern world.
The Challenge of Gender-Biased Judgment
The problem with the perception of gender and its relation to becoming involved in crime activities is that it often leads to misjudgment. In other words, in some cases, innocent males are found guilty even if they were not engaged in a particular crime activity due to their gender. On the other hand, some females get away with crimes because it is socially unacceptable to view women as criminals (Batchelor, Buran, & Brown, 2011). This challenge is closely related to failing to understand differences between gender, which serve as risk factors for becoming involved in criminal activities and can be valuable for developing appropriate crime prevention strategies (Cools, 2010).
Gender Differences and Crime Involvement
Gender has a robust impact on engagement in criminal activities, as it is one of the major factors, which influences worldview and, as a result, contributes to the perception of social norms, the process of socialization, social control, opportunities for committing crimes, and seeking justice (Cullen & Wilkox, 2011). First and foremost, it is essential to note that males and females are similar because, in most cases, involvement in criminal activities is closely connected to the process of socialization and background such as socioeconomic status, contacts with criminal system and gangs, homelessness, and various addictions (Hanks, 2007; Heimer, 2015). Nevertheless, there are some significant differences. For instance, females are commonly engaged in criminal activities because of their past experience related to abuse and victimization (Arnull & Eagle, 2009). As for males, they are commonly unprotected from interactions with criminal system. In other words, there is always a higher risk of contacts with criminals and gangs, which affects the process of socializations and makes crime activities appropriate in eyes of boys and young men (Heimer, 2015). Moreover, physical strength and aggression are other factors, which make men more predisposed to leading criminal lives (Schwartz & Steffensmeier, 2014).
This research will be based on several theories focusing on explaining the causes of offending patterns from gender-based perspective and within broader social context. Therefore, gendered, anomie, conflict, control, labeling, and differential association theories will be addressed.
Gendered theory of crime focuses on explaining gender-related causes of involvement in crime activities and differences between men and women. According to this theory, the primary cause of gender bias and gender-based engagement in criminal activities is the existence of inequality in society (Schwartz & Steffensmeier, 2014). From this perspective, males and females are unequal not only in protection from becoming involved in criminal activities but also in reporting crimes (Cools, 2010). This assumption is closely related to the universal beliefs that men are more frequently in criminal activities and need less protection and attention from the system of criminal justice. On the other hand, women are viewed as weak and constantly requiring protection. Moreover, this theory addresses economic vulnerability of females, which adds to forming patterns of female offending (Schwartz & Steffensmeier, 2014).
Anomie and Conflict Theories
These approaches center on investigating major causes of becoming involved in criminal activities. According to these theories, it is an individual’s background that stimulates crimes. It means that those who live in poverty and witness crimes make up the risk groups and are more predisposed to becoming engaged in criminal patterns (Schwartz & Steffensmeier, 2014).
Social Process Approaches
These approaches include such theories as labeling theory and differential association theory. From this perspective, people tend to act in a way their social group sees them. It means that if a justice system poses labels, there is higher risk of becoming a criminal. It is connected to the creation of opportunities for developing crime-related skills and tying such social bonds (Schwartz & Steffensmeier, 2014).
This approach is related to the background of an individual. It assumes that environment and socialization process shape perception of worldview. From this perspective, in case of coming from a dysfunctional or disproportional family, having inadequate access to knowledge and material values, there is a higher risk of becoming involved in offending patterns (Schwartz & Steffensmeier, 2014).
This research is a descriptive study. It aims at discovering trends in gender-related causes of offending patterns. All conclusions and recommendations will be made based on articulating actual facts related to gender differences in criminal activities. The rationale behind choosing this study design is the desire to explain the roots of the existing problem. That is why a thorough analysis of already published literature and statistical data is an appropriate choice. Because of the descriptive nature of the research, there is no need for developing hypotheses or making up research samples.
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As it was mentioned above, this study is a descriptive research, which focuses on gender differences in offending patterns. The foundation of this research is a thorough literature review and analysis of statistical data. All conclusions will be made based on National Youth surveys and tabulated data retrieved from the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Uniform Crime Reports. As for recommendations, some historical case studies will as well be taken into consideration in order to guarantee their comprehensiveness and accuracy (Erooga, 2012). The United States is the country under investigation.
This research consists of several interrelated steps. First and foremost, existing data will be collected. The focus will be made on FBI Reports and National Youth Surveys. The second step is an in-depth analysis of obtained data with the aim of identifying national trends in offending patterns. The final stage is drawing conclusions and offering recommendations for decreasing crime rates bearing in mind gender-related causes of becoming involved in criminal activities.
The United States is a country, which is no exception to the universal rule of offending patterns between genders, as generally fewer females are involved in criminal activities or arrested. This statement is true for all categories of crimes except prostitutions, which is traditionally a women-ruled industry. This trend is universal for all states of the country. It is essential to note that there is no correlation between race and gender. It means that regardless of racial and ethnic background, the rate of female criminal is lower compared to male (Schwartz & Steffensmeier, 2014).
Statistical data reveals several figures related to gender-related offending patterns. First and foremost, among those arrested, there are more than 80 percent of males, while women constitute around 20 percent of people put under arrest (Suter, 2011). At the same time, women make up smaller rates of known offenders compared to men. That said, there are around 20 percent of known offenders among women and 5 percent for serious offending patterns (Annison et al., 2015). Furthermore, there is a difference between various categories of crimes. That said, women are involved in poverty-related crimes – thefts, burglary, forgery, embezzlement, and fraud. This group of crimes is the largest one in case of women, as it makes around 30 to 40 percent of arrests (Heimer, 2015). Speaking of male criminal, this group of crimes constitutes around 20 percent of all cases (Annison et al., 2015). As for men, they are traditionally involved in crimes characterized by physical strength and aggression – homicides, assaults, etc. (Heimer, 2015). Moreover, it is essential to note that the quantity of crimes committed by women has been constantly increasing since the 1970s (Heimer, 2015).
However, it is critical to note that fewer women are sentenced to custody compared to men – 3 and 10 percent, respectively (Annison et al., 2015). Moreover, in most cases, women receive a fine more frequently than men – 77 and 61 percent, respectively (Annison et al., 2015). Finally, female criminals are less commonly sentenced to social service compared to males – 10 and 15 percent, respectively (Annison et al., 2015). At the same time, the instances of violence against an arrested person are nearly the same among males and females – around 33 percent (Annison et al., 2015).
Analysis of Research Findings
According to the abovementioned research findings, women are less involved in criminal activities compared to men. At the same time, they are more frequently engaged in poverty-related crimes, which do not require physical strength. From this perspective, the gendered theory of crimes can be applied, as it points to economic vulnerability of women (Schwartz & Steffensmeier, 2014). It means that it is possible to make an assumption that in case of having enough resources for living, these crimes would have been easy to avoid.
On the other hand, statistics demonstrate that female criminal either remain unknown or get away with fines. At the same time, they are sentenced to immediate custody in fewer cases compared to men (Heimer, 2015). These figures point to either imperfections of the criminal justice system or the significant robustness of gender bias in the American society, as it is believed that these are men, who are more likely to commit crimes, not women. However, because this research focuses on facts instead of perceptions, it is possible to state that females are indeed less likely to choose offending patterns.
Finally, it is essential to pay specific attention to the very figures of crimes and the way they change over time. As it was stated, women constitute less than 20 percent of those arrested (Suter, 2011). However, this figure has been constantly growing since the 1970s, which means that, statistically, the issue is continuously aggravating and overall rates are drastically notable compared to men (Heimer, 2015). At the same time, in case of decreases in crime rates, statistical representation would as well be drastic.
In conclusion, it is essential to state that female offenders are relatively small group of criminals compared to males. In most cases, they are involved in poverty-related crimes, which points to women’s economic vulnerability and the need for social protection. As the figure of female criminals is constantly increasing, it is possible to hypothesize that this phenomenon is explained by either stated social equality, i.e. granting women rights and career opportunities equal to those of men, thus decreasing their chances of financial protection, or the improvement of the criminal justice system, i.e. revealing instances of crimes committed by crimes.
Nevertheless, it is critical to note that it is possible to address the challenge of extremely high criminal rates and criminal justice inequality by recognizing that both males and females could become criminals so that they should be treated equally. It means that differences between genders should become the foundation of the system of crime preventions instead of affecting the operation of the justice system.
Even though this research is of significant practical value, there are some limitations, which should be mentioned. First and foremost, it is descriptive in nature. For this reason, research findings are not tested quantitatively to prove the central research assumption. Moreover, it focuses only on statistical data so that there is a risk of failing to gain an in-depth understanding of gender-related stimuli, which contribute to differences in crime rates and offending patterns between males and females. Finally, because the study focuses on statistical data, only vague recommendations could be drawn, as it does not pay specific attention to perceptions and motives for becoming involved in criminal activities.
Annison, J., Brayford, J., & Deering, J. (2015). Women and criminal justice: From the Corston Report to transforming rehabilitation. Bristol: Policy Press.
Arnull, S., & Eagle, E. (2009). Girls and offending – patterns, perceptions, and interventions. Web.
Batchelor, S., Burman, M., & Brown, J. (2011). Discussing violence: Let’s hear it from the girls. Probation Journal, 8(2), 125–134.
Cools, M. (2010). Safety, societal problems and citizens’ perceptions: New empirical data, theories, and analyses. Antwerpen: Maklu Uitgevers N.V.
Cullen, F. T., & Wilcox, P. (2011). Encyclopedia of criminological theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Erooga, M. (2012). Creating safer organizations: Practical steps to prevent the abuse of children by those working with them. Chichester: Wiley.
Hanks, S. (2007). Public say: Stop locking up so many women: A briefing on a SmartJustice Survey. Web.
Heimer, K. (2015). Gender and crime: Patterns of victimization and offending. New York, NY: New York University.
Schwartz, J., & Steffensmeier, D. (2014). The nature of female offending: Patterns and explanation. Web.
Suter, J. (2011). Female offenders are different from male offenders: Anger as an example. Web.
Youth Justice Board. (2014). Girls and offending: Patterns, perceptions, and interventions. Web.