Crime and Deviance: gender

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 14-04-14 19:36

Gender facts

recent stats show that:

  • fewer than 1/5 of all recorded arrest in 2009 involved females. Most common offence group for both males+females was violence against a person
  • 2008/9 most common offence group for female/males was theft and handling stolen goods
  • more convicted women recieved fines than men, and women given an immediate custodial sentence
  • in 2009 women constituted 5% and men 95% of the prison population

Sociologists disagree whether official stats genuinely reflect women committing fewer crimes than men or whether they are less suspected and treated more leaniently by CJS.

1 of 7

Women and Crime

number of reasons why women (may) commit fewer crimes:

  • male hormone testosterone has been linked with aggression. Western society boys expected to defend themselves - given toy weapons etc. Girls are given different toys and socialised to be more caring(Ann Oakley's theory of canalisation, 1974)
  • conjugal role studies show women perform more domestic tasks and are likely to take responsibility for children, even if in paid work, leaving less time for crime.
  • Angela McRobbie(1978) - teenage girls spent leisure time in friends' rooms, while boys played in the street in large groups and thus dirfted more easily into street crime.
  • Frances Heidensohn(1985) - single and married females were kept at home by their fathers and husbands, so they were not free to commit crime. However, counter evidence points to increasing number of delinquent girl gangs on streets at night.
  • Corporate crime less likely to be committed by women, as fewer reach management positions
  • some women lack knowledge to commit certain common types of crime, such as breaking into cars
2 of 7


  • self-report studies suggest a higher proportion of females commit crime than official stats show.
  • Campbell(1981) - showed girls admitting to nearly as many offences as boys in a male/female ratio of 1.2:1, though her data is flawed by counting trvial and serious crimes in the same way.
  • Otto Pollak(1950) - described women as skilled at decieving people. He believed they carried out offences in the invisibility of their homes, sucha s child & elder abuse, and that domestic servants' theft from employers were also hidden.
  • Chivalry thesis - police suspect women less and CJS treat them favourably in court because they find it hard to concieve women behaving as badly as men. However, alternative reasons are women are more likely to be arrested for less serious offences and to admit to their offence.
  • Women also recieve less custodial sentences if they are pregnant or mothers of young children.
  • Postnatal depression and pre-menstrual tension also been regarded as mitigating circumstances
3 of 7

Increasing female crime

  • less female crime than male crime, yet gender gap in crime rates among the young is less than it was.
  • some blame new 'ladette' culture leading to more public order and racially aggrevated offences - 47% rise over 5 years in violent attacks by teenage girls.
  • several men's jails have been converted to house women since 2001 - mainly as magistrates taken harder approach on female drug and violent crime.
  • Charlotte Day - opposite of Chivalry thesis - women who break law are seen as more deviant than men, as it is expected of women to not break the law, so they are punished more severely.
  • some suggest feminism is responsible for increases in female crime are not convincing as most ambitious and succesful women are unlikely to be involved in street crime, though some may be in corporate crime.
  • possible parents supervise teenagers less than they used to, may not socialise them properly - may explain why peak in female crime dropped from 18 to 15 in 21st century
4 of 7

Gender of victims

  • British Crime Survey 2009/10 - 2/3 violent crime victims were men and 1/3 were women
  • women accounted for 73% victims in incidents of domestic violence.
  • Figures innacurate as many victims are too afraid/embarassed to report incidents.
  • police may be reluctant to intrude in private matters and, when they do, victims withdraw complaints.
  • 2008/9 data showed fewer females(192) than males(459) were victims of homicide.
  • greater proportion of female than male victims were killed by their partner or ex-partner
  • women were at higher risk of theft from the person
5 of 7

Reasons for domestic violence

  • witnessing domestic violence in childhood
  • high levels of interpersonal dependency and jealousy
  • lack of empathy
  • alcohol abuse
  • ome suggest a subcultural explanation - violence is the norm in the working class - other argue it occurs in all classes and that m/c women just don't report it
  • Dobashe(1979) - British family traditionally patriarchal, men have high expectations of the duties women should perform for them, some men feel justified in punishing women who don't fulfill expectations
6 of 7

Reasons for sexual violence

  • traditional explanations = strong sex drive of the ****** and precipitating actions by the victim, such as wearing alluring clothing in high-risk situation
  • Feminists reject this view. Fear of victim-blaming results in many women being reluctant to report **** and this is compounded by low expectations of conviction - though conviction rate is high if it reaches court
  • Susan Brownmiller(1975) - few men are actually ******s, but the fact some are controls all women, as they have to restrict their actions.
  • Stephen Box - sexual harassment by male bosses is tolerated by women who wish to retain their jobs.
7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Crime and deviance resources »