This paper focuses on the matter of concern that there is a high growth rate
in crimes among women that's developed in recent times. Studies suggest that
women have long history of committing different crimes. Significant growth has
been observed from 1945 onwards. Women's participation in crime has been majorly
associated with a large amount of indifference compared to men, in criminology.
Author feels that women have been traditionally expected to perform domestic
family roles, they were mainly viewed as sexual objects in a society of male
domination. Women who were considered as offenders or socially deviant from
typical standards of normal women were called 'affected and unwell requiring
Author has learnt that motivation of criminality in women is mostly because of
the social conditions that they face. There are possibilities that the
criminality can be installed in a women's mind genetically. The character of a
criminal is put in a women's brain by social exposure right from a young age
which also results in behaviour development. It has also been observed that
women formed a very small amount of prisoners under lockup.
A women moving alone late at nights will not only attracts attention but it also
attracts danger to herself. This limits the opportunities for women to commit
crimes. That's the reason women are less involved in crimes like white collar
crime, fraud, etc. The Author in her research found out that since women are
physiologically different, they cannot always be equal to men.
Generally crimes committed by women differ from male criminality. The
differences can be seen in the nature of the crime, and its' consequences,
combined with the method, crime weapon, and choice of victim. It is difficult to
overlook the fact that crimes committed by women have a more emotional
characteristic then those committed by men.
There has been considerable thought given to the various roles that men and
women play in the commission of crime. Many theorists have raised concerns about
this. Theories explaining why women commit crime and why they commit less crime
than men have been developed using social, biological, and psychological
explanations. As part of the growing body of work on gender in criminology and
the social sciences more broadly, the number and complexity of these theories
has grown significantly in recent years.
Until recently, criminal behaviour was primarily discussed from a male
perspective and was about, for, and by men. There are, however, a variety of
theories in place that purport to explain why some women commit fewer crimes
Theorists who emphasise the biological and psychological factors that contribute
to female crime typically assume that criminal women have masculine biological
and psychological orientations. Cesare Lombroso proposes that "criminals are
atavistic throwbacks, and crime results from a reversion to their more primitive
state." He examined the skulls and bones of female criminals and prostitutes, as
well as the lives of both criminal and non-criminal women.
'The Female Offender,' which 'profiled' the female offender and included
deception, cunning, and spite, among other traits that they claimed were not
present in males. This suggests that criminal women were more male genetically
than non-criminal females, and thus biologically abnormal. One of Lombroso's
many critics, Gabriel Tarde, stated that crime, being social in nature, is of
changing nature and, because it depends on social definitions, it cannot be
explained with reference to origins. Furthermore, Tarde claims that Lombroso's
theory does not explain the lower rate of criminality among women with the same
According to some criminologists, women are rarely given the opportunity to
participate in organised and corporate crime, of which many men are guilty but
not convicted. In terms of the conviction ratio between males and females, where
women have similar opportunities for criminal behaviour as males, their
respective patterns of crime appear to be broadly similar. However, while women
have similar opportunities to men to commit crime, these may be limited by other
factors such as employment, as fewer women work than men. Women are also more
likely than men to be primary caregivers for their children, limiting
opportunities for various types of criminal behaviour.
It's possible that a common explanation for why women commit crimes is that
they're reacting irrationally to problems like economic hardship and educational
setbacks. Instead than being a combative reaction to one's social condition, as
is the case with many males, it is a last-ditch effort to escape poverty.
The most noticeable factor influencing crime statistics is the offender's
gender. While the population of women in jail has historically been low, recent
statistics suggest that this trend may be changing.
The growing number of women behind bars is another pressing concern. According
to a recent article in The Guardian, "Crime-fighting used to be a male activity,
but more and more women are playing a key part."
There is no one correct response to the question of how gender roles affect
criminal behaviour. Environmental variables and cultural norms are two of the
most significant ones to consider.
Why do women commit crimes?
The norms and ideals of our society are complex. The gender role structure is no
different. These 'roles' have persisted for millennia. In the early years, we
are instructed on the differences between male and female behaviour. Boys are
conditioned to take the initiative and be manly, while girls are conditioned to
take the back seat and be feminine. Women are socialised from a young age to
adhere to certain gender norms. Women are taught proper behaviour even if males
pose a greater threat to society.
According to criminological research, the most pressing societal issues are
those that are uniquely male-associated and so are not typically attributed to
females. It's a fact that women, like males, are just as likely to perpetrate or
actively engage in horrendous drug-related crimes. However, judges are more
likely to be severe on female offenders since they are not as likely to be
stereotyped as criminals.
To be a decent woman, one must fulfil the roles of wife and mother. However,
there are some women who choose to live beyond these norms even if the vast
majority of their peers accept them. The likelihood of women committing crimes
for which they are more equipped grows as they gain independence in the
contemporary world and take on full-time careers. Crime is more likely to occur
in some professions, such as those of bank managers, stock traders, etc.
As women develop independence and take on traditionally male tasks in society,
they also begin to express themselves in traditionally masculine ways, such as
by acting aggressively, being persistent, and showing a lack of empathy. Many
modern women are taking a stand against what they see as their societal
inferiority by actively pursuing traditionally male ideals of success and power.
Through experience, they come to view criminal activity as a means to an end.
With more and more women taking charge of their own families, women are feeling
economic strain and turning to crime for financial security.
There has been a recent uptick in the number of women who take part in criminal
enterprises as partners or as entrepreneurs. Women's involvement at crime scenes
have always been secondary. They served persons who had authority over them,
such pimps. Their primary roles were to lure in targets, patrol the area,
transport stolen goods, and act as human shields. As the number of women in
professional and managerial roles grew, so did their rates of white-collar
crime. It's ironic that the dissatisfaction, subservience, and reliance that
define the female position are the very things that often inspire women to get
involved. Sometimes, when a woman's frustrations and rage reach a breaking
point, she will take her own life or the lives of her children.
History of women in crime:
There has been growing concern in recent years about the disproportionately high
percentage of crime committed by women. Nonetheless, there is evidence from
historical research to show that women have been the first witnesses to a
variety of crimes. From 1500 to 1800, the rate of female prosecution was quite
high, but from 1800 to 1945, it dropped significantly, while a considerable
increase was seen after 1945. Male and female crime rates were closer together
in the earlier and later time periods.
Assault, property offences, infanticide, and defamation were among crimes for
which women were frequently tried in early modern Britain. Unlike today, when
slander and other forms of character assassination were common, they were once
regarded a terrible felony. It's because, back in the early modern era, if
someone was accused of or found guilty of slander, their reputation would take a
People would avoid dealing with convicted slanderers, perhaps costing them their
jobs, trade, business, and clients, in addition to the official social
punishment they would get from society's institutions. People in rural areas and
smaller cities place a high value on their good name and reputation.
To uproot one's life and begin again in a new location was a daunting task back
then. Slander was still a serious crime for elites, however, because personal
reputation was cherished or greatly valued within elite social groups, despite
the fact that commoners regarded it as less important or serious after the rise
of urbanisation in the nineteenth century and the convenience and commonality
with which people migrated from one community to another. More importantly,
defamation, witchcraft, gossip, and rumour spreading were the most serious
crimes committed by women in Europe.
There were two primary causes for the disproportionate number of female criminal
defendants. To begin, compared to males, women far more actively participated in
neighbourhood and street life (Eales 1998). Except for a small percentage of
upper-class women, women have been engaged in economic activities like baking,
agriculture, brewing, etc. since long before the rise of capitalism. The rise of
capitalism has changed the traditional role of women in the workforce.
Work and domestic life were mostly kept separate until the early 20th century,
when the capitalist transformation of the workplace led to the emergence of
specialised divisions of labour. Since women were more likely to be out in
public, criminals took advantage of this. Second, in early modern civilization,
women faced a greater prosecution rate than men did because of the
indiscriminate enforcement of formal rules; males, females, and children alike
were all subject to the same penalties.
When the year was 1830, the criminal justice system and law enforcement were
both dominated by men. Because of the preponderance of men in law enforcement,
male offenders were disproportionately targeted for arrest and, if found guilty,
sentenced to jail. As a result, women in the early nineteenth century were less
likely to be apprehended, charged, or convicted of criminal offences (Feely
1994). Many minor offences, such as shoplifting, drunk driving, child
maltreatment, and prostitution, were handled in the lower courts, where women
were disproportionately prosecuted.
Women were charged at a greater rate in lesser European courts than in supreme
courts. Sexual promiscuity, drunkenness, vagrancy, and poverty are all crimes
committed by women, although most of these offences were likely never reported
since they were handled outside of the legal system.
In addition, from the 20th century onward, a sizable number of women were
involved in police departments or policing, revealing crimes committed by women,
the vast majority of which were linked to property and public order.
Prostitution was uncommon in Europe around the turn of the century, but
widespread in other areas of the world.
Feminist criminologists did extensive research on female criminal behaviour
beginning in the 1970s, and because to their work, we now know that female
criminal activity increased dramatically at the end of the 20th century. The
"Sisters in Crime" research by Freda Adler, considered by many to be the single
most important study on American women, has recently sparked heated dispute. She
contended that the rise of criminal females after 1960 is a direct result of the
movement for women's emancipation.
One reason for this is because at the end of the twentieth century, women had
taken on increasingly visible responsibilities in public that left them
vulnerable to criminal activity. Second, the contemporary criminal justice
system arrested, prosecuted, and convicted people without regard to race,
religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender in conformity with formal
societal standards, which led to a rise in the number of women being prosecuted.
Role of Marriage, Child Rearing and Household Tasks
Female criminal behaviour cannot be reduced to a simple calculation of lost
opportunities in the legitimate economy. Women may have a larger role than males
in society because of the care they provide to children and homes. The value of
housework has diminished as a result of technology developments and shifting
In the United States, for instance, the percentage of homes with a dishwasher
increased from 42% in 1985 to 63% in 2009, while the percentage of homes with a
washing machine increased from 67% to 77% during the same time period. If data
went back to the time immediately following World War II, the discrepancies
would be considerably more pronounced. The surge in childcare subsidies also
alters the marginal value of time spent at home.
From 1977 to 2009, the percentage of children under the age of five who were
being cared for by someone other than a member of their immediate family
increased from 39.3 percent to 52.2 percent. Therefore, the opportunity cost of
engaging in unlawful activities is lower than it was in the past, suggesting
that women may be more likely to commit crime.
Furthermore, it should be emphasised that engaging in criminal activities is not
always a replacement for engaging in legal activities or spending time on
domestic responsibilities. An individual may go grocery shopping for the family
and, while there, make the decision to steal from the store, or an employed
person might steal from their employer. A research conducted in 1979 confirmed
this finding: married women have a higher incidence of larceny (shoplifting),
but not of personal crimes or property crimes that call for greater expertise
and abilities, such as vehicle theft, burglary, or robbery.
The same study also highlights the potential significance of marital status on
the choice to commit crime. Since unmarried women are more likely to have a
consistent work history, both they and their employers are more likely to put
money into training and education. As a result, single women have more lifetime
job options in the law than their married counterparts. More married women would
be expected to engage in criminal activity if the black market required less
skills than the employment market.
However, due to their husbands' earnings, married women are in a better position
to start a family and protect themselves from economic downturns. This
information should have the opposite effect on your expectations. Property
crimes, but not violent ones, are more common among married women who are not in
the work field.
The same is not true of property offences committed by working-age women. In
addition, the number of preschool-aged children has a negative effect on
criminal participation among married women. This is likely due to the fact that
a mother's disutility in incarceration rises as her children become older.
The role of labor market opportunities:
In the 1970s, it became clear that female criminality had been rising in the US
for property crimes but not for violent crimes such as homicide or robbery. One
theory was based onopportunism: the dramatic increase in property crime was the
result of more women entering the labor market and finding themselves in
positions that allow them to commit such offenses.
An empirical investigation in 1970 corroborated this theory, finding that
employed women tended to commit more crimes than women who were not in the labor
force. Another study finds similar results using a search model that comprises
the option to commit crimes and comparing female labor force participation rates
and crime rates in 1960 and 2005. Some researchers argue for another potential
mechanism, not yet tested, that might lead to an increase in female crime.
They contend that it is important to look not only at the absolute gender wage
gap (the average hourly earnings for a female worker amounted to about 80%of the
average for a male worker in the US in 2000 compared with about 60% in 1960) but
also at relative inequality in the distribution of wages for men and women,
which shows that wage disparity across skilled and unskilled jobs is greater for
women than for men.
Skilled workers tend to commit fewer crimes than unskilled workers because their
relative wage is increasing over time thanks to skill-favoring technological
change. Since high-value crimes are less frequent than low-value crimes and
relative wage inequality has increased more for women than for men, it is not
surprising that the number of crimes committed by women (compared to men) has
increased in recent decades.
Gender Gap & Policy Advice: 
There has been a lot of study into the closing gender gap in the workplace. The
crime gap follows a similar trend, but has received far less attention from
researchers. This means that we know less about gender differences in crime than
we do about male-female differences, and we know even less about the reasons
This disparity in crime rates probably has roots in economic, social, and
cultural issues. There is evidence that women are less active in the criminal
economy than males are because the rewards and penalties associated with
criminal activity are different for them. For instance, women tend to be fewer
risk-takers and less able to conduct crimes than males can (in terms of the
likelihood of getting jailed and the amount of illicit profits).
It's especially counterproductive for mothers of young children for a woman to
spend time behind bars. Each of these indicators may help shed light on the
existence of a gender gap in the criminal economy.
Changes in social roles and technical advancement may have liberated women from
the home and lowered the marginal value of housekeeping, both of which may
contribute to the rise in the number of female offenders.
There is conflicting evidence about how work and earnings affect rates of crime
committed by women. Another idea, which has not been put to the test, holds that
relative pay disparity is more significant than the wage difference itself. It's
possible that more women at the lower end of the income distribution have been
driven to crime by the decades-long rise in relative wage disparity for women,
which has been more pronounced for women than for males. Last but not least,
women have an edge in the criminal marketplace because they receive more lenient
treatment from the law than males do.
These results show that policymakers should consider the potential that
improvements in the job market and social roles may have prompted more women to
become involved in criminal activity. Policies that encourage female education
and aim toward closing the income gap between skilled and unskilled female
employees may help prevent disadvantaged women from turning to crime. Family
support programmes that encourage marriage and childbearing may also diminish
female criminal involvement, which would be a double win for society.
According to the strain theory, men are more likely to commit crimes. The idea
behind this is that men who are actively engaged in mainstream culture are more
likely to commit crimes as a result of the stress they experience as a result of
having to comply to norms that they find unappealing. Since they did not have to
worry about the "rat race" or making ends meet, women were assumed to be less
likely to commit crimes.
The field of criminology has seen several attempts to apply this theory to
female criminals. This viewpoint holds that women cannot be experiencing stress
because they are too preoccupied with meaningless activities like housework,
shopping, and socialising. As women have increased their influence in the
workforce since gender equality was established, this is no longer an accurate
depiction of society. Even while many women who have full-time jobs experience
high levels of stress, not all of these women turn to criminal activity.
The possibility of harsher consequences for women than men has been cited as one
Finally, both sexes are equally responsible for criminal activity. Criminals'
motivations will always be a mystery, but it seems sense that they would be
different for males and girls. This is because the majority of published works
focus on males before being adapted to females (for example, strain theory), but
this is not always the case.
Since men and women engage in criminal activity at various times and in
different ways, they should have distinct motivations for breaking the law.
Women have a lower recidivism rate than men, suggesting that this is due to
either a desire to maintain a certain lifestyle or the fear of having their
children taken away and placed in foster care. Thus, criminologists deduce that
there must be a substantial difference between the motivations of males and
females for criminal behaviour.
- Jan Thompson, "Why Do Women Commit Crime" (Hubpages, August 2012)
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