Gender and Crime : Gender Theory of Female Offending


It is a fact that there is a relationship between gender and crime. Contemporary criminologists have more knowledge and crime than on age and crime and race and crime. However, most research focuses on factors that drive males towards crime. This is due to the fact that males commit most crimes. Sociologists have various theories on why men and women commit crimes. However, there are significant differences on patterns of serious crime that men and women commit. These patterns have profound significance than patterns of minor crimes committed by both men and women (Knafla, 2002).

To determine the gender theory of crime it is vital to determine first the male and female patterns of offending. The next step is providing explanations for the patterns the gender gap that may be exhibited in the patterns. This is critical in order to address the ‘gender equality’ hypothesis that states that the convergence of gender roles leads to a convergence in crime between males and females. Advancement of the theory would help in expansion of the ‘gendered paradigm’ that would help in explaining the relationship between gender and crime. This would help in providing recommendations on how to tackle crime more effectively (Vaske et al., 2011).

Female and Male Patterns of Male Offending

There are significant differences and patterns in crimes committed by males and females. Both men and women commit more minor property crimes and substance abuse than serious crimes such murder or robbery. However, men have much higher rates of crime than women in all crimes. The only crime that women commit more than men is prostitution. The gender gap in crime is highest among serious offenses (Vaske et al., 2011).

Applying Traditional Theory in Explaining Differences in Male and Female Crime Patterns

Whether theories developed by mainly male criminologists to explains patterns in male crime can be used to explain to patterns in male crime is one of the controversial issues among most criminologists. This is due to the fact that the macro social conditions that drive men to commit crime may between from those of women. However, research shows that there may be overlap in the drivers of crime among the different sexes. In addition, research shows that traditional theoretical perspectives may help in explaining the differences in offending patterns among men and women. However, it is difficult to provide an explanation of serious crimes among men and women (Helfgott, 2008).

Research shows that there are certain similarities in the social backgrounds of both male and female offenders. Just like male offenders, female offenders usually have low socioeconomic status. In addition, they are also poorly educated or unemployed. A majority of female offenders are also from minority groups a feature that is common among male offenders. The main social difference between men and women is that women have a lower social profile than men. In addition, female offenders have dependent children (Vaske et al., 2011).

Societies and groups that have high male rates of crime tend to have high female rates of crime. Decline in the male rate of crime in the group or society also leads to a decrease in the rate of female of crime in the group or society. This indicates that social and legal forces that affect male rates of crime also affect female rates of crime. However, the factors should not be unique to only males or females (Knafla, 2002).

Traditional theories of crime have several shortcomings. Traditional theories of crime help in providing the general patterns in male and female offending. They help in providing an explanation as to why females have lower rates of crime than women. However, traditional theories of crime do not provide an explanation on the slight differences in the patterns of male and female offending. For example, the traditional theories do not provide a full explanation as to why serious property crimes and crimes against other people are more prevalent among men than women. It is a fact that regardless of the source of data, men have higher rates of crime in serious crime than women. On the other hand, women rarely engage in serious crimes (Boisvert et al., 2012). In addition, the monetary value of female thefts or property damages is significantly lower than that of men. This raises the question as to who women are less likely to engage or lead criminal groups. Traditional theories of crime do not explain why female offenders are more likely to be solo perpetrators of crime or why they are more likely to be part of relatively small crimes, which are usually non-permanent. When women engage in crime with others, especially lucrative crimes, they are more likely to be accomplices to men. Traditional theories of crime do not also explain why women need a higher level of provocation than men to engage in crime. Women and children are usually victims of crime. Despite the fact that various factors that drive women to crime, female offenders usually have a history of neurological, biological, or physiological abnormalities (Helfgott, 2008).

Gender Gap and Crime

Criminologists acknowledge the fact that there low levels of crime among females than males. They also acknowledge the fact that the gender gap in crime rates varies with race, age, and geographical location. Variations in rates of crime among men and women may also be explained by the gender equality among social groups. Criminologists also agree than the gender gap in crime is usually low in social settings that have slight differences in the roles of women and men. This is usually exhibited more in developed countries than developing nations and in urban areas than in rural areas. Gender gap is also low among whites than among blacks (Britton, 2011).

The above explanation acted as the major foundation in crime hypothesis on the gender gap in the 1970s. Therefore, increase in gender equality may be the major factor that would help in explaining why there was a significant increase in female arrests during the 1970s. This prompted the media to claim that increase in female rates of crime was a ‘dark side’ of female liberation. The gender equality theory is still relevant in contemporary theories of crime. This is portrayed in the power-control theory. According to the theory, there is limited common delinquency among girls who have been raised in egalitarian families. In these families, women are in a position that is similar to those of men in or they may have greater authority than fathers (Knafla, 2002).

However, in the recent past, the several questions have been raised on the hypothesis of gender equality. One of the questions is whether in the contemporary world, there is a significant gender gap in crime rates as it was in the past. Another question raised is whether women have indeed experienced higher social inequalities among the specified groups or during the specified times. The last question raised is whether the hypothesis of the gender equality theory is more accurate than other alternative hypothesis. It is a fact that evidence for various time and space variations is usually small and in most instances flawed. Variations usually occur in less serious forms of crime (Britton, 2011).


In the recent past, there has been an increase in women movement. There is no tangible evidence that shows that there has been a decrease in the gender gap in the recent past. This has led to the development of various alternatives that strive to explain the gender gap and differences in rates of crime among males and females. Various parties claim that it is wrong to claim that women equality does not increase rates of crime since economic conditions is one of the major drivers to crime. Therefore, improvement in the economic conditions of females through women empowerment would not lead to an increase in the rates of crime. They claim that the reverse may in fact be true. Patriarchal power relationships between men and women are the major factors that lead to crime. The relationships are characterized by victimization and economic marginalization. The role of gender inequality in crime is exhibited by girls who drift to crime as a result of running away from home due to sexual or physiological abide in their homes. In their struggle to survive in the streets, which usually have harsh living conditions, they may result to crime (Helfgott, 2008).

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