Gender Differences in Criminality

… an Atlas concept in Socioeconomic and Political Context and Atlas105


JRank Articles (reference below) has summarized the extent and implications of gender differences in offending patterns.

The article notes:

“Females have lower arrest rates than males for virtually all crime categories except prostitution. This is true in all countries for which data are available. It is true for all racial and ethnic groups, and for every historical period. In the United States, women constitute less than 20 percent of arrests for most crime categories.

“Females have even lower representation than males do in serious crime categories. Since the 1960s in the United States, the extent of female arrests has generally been less than 15 percent for homicide and aggravated assault, and less than 10 percent for the serious property crimes of burglary and robbery.

“Aside from prostitution, female representation has been greatest for minor property crimes such as larceny-theft, fraud, forgery, and embezzlement. Female arrests for these crime categories has been as high as 30 to 40 percent, especially since the mid-1970s. The thefts and frauds committed by women typically involve shoplifting (larceny-theft), “bad checks” (forgery or fraud), and welfare and credit fraud – all compatible with traditional female consumer/domestic roles. …

“From a variety of sources, it is clear that females are less involved in serious offense categories, and they commit less harm. Women’s acts of violence, compared to those of men, result in fewer injuries and less serious injuries. Their property crimes usually involve less monetary loss or less property damage.

“Females are less likely than males to become repeat offenders. Long-term careers in crime are very rare among women. Some pursue relatively brief careers (in relation to male criminal careers) in prostitution, drug offenses, or minor property crimes like shoplifting or check forging. …

“Females are far less likely than males to become involved in delinquent gangs. This distinction is consistent with the tendency for females to operate alone and for males to dominate gangs and criminal subcultures. At the onset of the twenty-first century, female gang involvement was described as a sort of “auxiliary” to a male gang. By the 1980s and 1990s, gang studies found somewhat increased involvement on the part of girls (perhaps 15%), including some all female gangs. Regardless, female gang violence has remained far less common than male gang violence.

“The criminal justice system’s greater “leniency” and “chivalry” toward females may explain a portion of the lower official offending rates of women in comparison to men. Likewise, the justice system’s tendency to be relatively less lenient and chivalrous toward females today may help explain recent increases in levels of female arrests. Although there appear to be relatively small differences between adult women and men in likelihood of arrest or conviction, women defendants do appear to have a lower probability of being jailed or imprisoned.”

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Gender Inequality (core topic) in Socioeconomic and Political Context and Atlas105.


JRank Articles, Gender and Crime – Differences Between Male And Female Offending Patterns – Categories, Women, Arrests, and Crimes, at, accessed 13 March 2017.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 13 March 2017.

Image: JRank Articles, Gender and Crime – Differences Between Male And Female Offending Patterns – Categories, Women, Arrests, and Crimes, at, accessed 13 March 2017.