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Gender and Crime: Toward a Gendered Theory of Female Offending

Darrell Steffensmeier and Emilie Allan
Annual Review of Sociology
Vol. 22 (1996), pp. 459-487
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2083439
Page Count: 29
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Gender and Crime: Toward a Gendered Theory of Female Offending
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Abstract

Criminologists agree that the gender gap in crime is universal: Women are always and everywhere less likely than men to commit criminal acts. The experts disagree, however, on a number of key issues: Is the gender gap stable or variant over time and cross space? If there is variance, how may it best be explained? Are the causes of female crime distinct from or similar to those of male crime? Can traditional sociological theories of crime explain female crime and the gender gap in crime? Do gender-neutral or gender-specific theories hold the most explanatory promise? In this chapter we first examine patterns of female offending and the gender gap. Second, we review the "gender equality hypothesis" as well as several recent developments in theorizing about gender differences in crime. Third, we expand on a gendered paradigm for explaining female crime first sketched elsewhere. We conclude with recommendations for future work.

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