Slides for WDW 380: Lecture 3
Crime, Gender and Sex
September 28, 2011
Professor Rosemary Gartner
Recent Newspaper Articles on Gender [In]equality
• “Teens ambivalent about gender equality”, Globe & Mail, Sept. 23, 2011
• “What glass ceiling”, column by Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, Sept. 22, 2011
• “Job design”, two letters to the editor in response to Wente’s column, Globe & Mail, Sept. 23, 2011
All are posted on the course website in a folder labeled “Gender Issues in the News”
Outlines of your Essays Due In Two Weeks
Criteria for marking the outline:
Did you write about the movie you were assigned?
Have you written 1 – 2 paragraphs indicating the themes or issues you expect to focus on in your paper; and linked these
to particular characters, events, or scenes/episodes in the movie? (This can change.)
Have you identified at least 2 course readings and 2 outside readings you expect to draw on in your paper? (These can
Have you written 2 – 3 sentences indicating why these sources will be useful for your paper?
Tips on finding readings on-line and searching for academic sources for your essays.
-A good idea is to use Google Scholar.
-For readings, use the journal function on library
-When using Google scholar, type in a subject heading (e.g. white-collar crime) and youll get thousands of hits. For many
of them, clicking on the article title of the pdf tab that’s sometimes in the margin next to it and it will bring you to a pdf of
the article .
-You’ll also see links underneath each article title.
Questions you should be able to answer after today’s class
What do we know about sex differences in serious violent offending?
How have sex differences in violent offending been explained?
-We will talk about sex differences in data in regards to crime, with a touch of historical differences as well. We will also
address different explanations that have been given for these differences in crime.
-The Bourgois article is a classic and it was chosen because she likes the way it talks about different masculinities. It also
located the source of those masculinities also in economic conditions.
-Engel Merry article is different because she recognized that it isn’t just men harming women and that women don’t just
harm in self-defence. She also talks about the changes in the way in which sex and gender have been defined.
-The Juristat is good because it helps for quizzes in terms of the large numbers (are men more likely than women to
Some Facts about Sex Differences in Serious Violent Crime
Who’s more likely to commit violent crime?
Number of males and females accused of violent crimes, Canada, 2005
# of females # of males % male offenders
Homicide 35 365 91%
Attempted hom. 68 476 88%
Robbery 1,264 10,689 89%
Major assault 6,448 26,902 81%
Common asslt. 15,670 57,780 79%
against the 30,747 137,170 82%
-Who is more likely to engage in serious violent crime? Males. This pattern is almost as close to a universal pattern you
can get in society. Thus, this pattern reflects the case in many societies across time. Men thus are more violent. However,
the size of that sex difference varies a lot. Just how much men’s violence exceeds women’s violence varies over time and
place. The size of the sex gap in violence also varies according to the type of criminal behavior.
-This shows the number of males and females accused of violent crimes in Canada in 2005. You can see that males
greatly outnumber females in terms of the percent of violent crime. However, the percentage varies. It is higher for
homicide and lower for common assault. It shows that the more serious the violent crime, the more males will dominate
that category. When the violence becomes less serious, the gap decreases.
-However, why is it difficult to document the sex gap in violent crimes across countries? The stats we have seen are for
Canada. Maybe because of differing measures of crime, differing definitions of crime, differences in the types of behavior
that are criminalized, etc. Thus, it is difficult to get an accurate picture, with the exception of one crime. That exception is
homicide. Homicide tends to be defined the most uniformly and the most accurately recorded.
-Thus, what we know base on homicide data is that inmost developed countries, the homicide pattern tends to be similar
to that in Canada. The departure comes when you look at countries wit extremely high homicide rates. In some countries,
the percentage of male homicide offenders goes as high as 95%. -Males also dominate among homicide victims.
What percentage of homicides are committed by males in other countries?
In most developed democracies, between 88% and 92% of homicide offenders are male.
The percentage of homicide offenders who are male tends to be larger in countries with higher homicide rates.
Percentage of homicides in Canada in 2007 accounted for by different offender-victim combinations
Female victims Male victims
Female offenders 3% 6%
Male offenders 24% 67%
-Thus most homicides are males killing males. Most of the female on female homicide comes from women killing their
infants or young kids.
-This pattern of male on male homicides tends to be consistent across countries.
Has the sex difference in homicide offending changed over time?
Percent of Homicide Offenders Who Were Male,
Canada, 1978 - 2008
-Are women becoming more violent over time? Does evidence support this? This is the pattern for males. We see the
proportion for homicide among males hasn’t gone down over time between 1978 and 2008. What about earlier
decades? Has it decreased over many decades? We don’t have data on the whole country, but we have data in
Toronto. The following slide shows homicide committed by males since the 1940’s (below). The numbers suggest
that the proportion of homicides committed by males has actually increased over time. We also see that the
homicide rate increased over time. When homicide rates go up, the biggest portion that goes up is homicides by
males. This pattern is common in many other countries including the US. Thus, males are more likely than females
to engage in serious violent crime. Why? How has this been explained?
Has the sex difference in homicide offending changed over time? (continued)
% of Toronto's Homicide Offenders
Who Were Male, by Decade,
1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990
As Toronto’s homicide rate increased over time the percentage of offenders who were male also increased.
• Why do males engage in violent crime more often than females? Many theories have attempted to explain this.
• Why do females engage in violent crime?
-The theories we will talk about tend to focus on either sex differences or gender differences. Some of the theories we will
talk about sex differences (biological) and they see the sources for the sex difference in crime as the result of biological
differences that are innate. Other theories talk about gender differences and explain the gap in terms of a social
-Regardless of which theory, why do females engage in violence? This question required a different theoretical
Cesare Lombroso, L’uomo Delinquente: Lombroso’s Explanation of Criminal Violence
Many criminals are atavists, evolutionary throw-backs, or ‘born criminals’
These ‘born criminals’ can be identified by specific physical markers-- which vary for different types of criminal
• There were physical markers of biological degeneracy (atavism), according to Lombroso
-We will take what he said seriously because he was the first person to look at sex differences in crime and take the topic
seriously. He was one of the first people that didn’t just look at male offenders but he looked at female offenders. Many contemporary scholars don’t even do that.
-Also, some of the reasons he gave for these sex differences in violent crime continued to influence theories about sex
differences throughout the 20 century. Thus, many of his theories were debunked, but they have also informed and
reflected many theories in the 20 century.
-He published his first book in 1876. He was a physician and was very well educated. According to him, violent criminals
are biologically different from normal people. They are genetic throwbacks to an previous evolutionary time. They are less
evolved than normal law-abiding citizens. This theory was based on studies he did (going in to prisons and measuring
inmates, and looking at and examining cadavers, etc). He believed these markers didn’t make you criminal but were signs
that they were less evolved. He argued that criminals has signs of atavism (and thus called them born criminals). He said
we can find these physical signs even to the fact that different crimes are produced by different criminals (and thus they
had different markers).
-He was writing during Darwin’s time, and thus picked up on this theory of evolution and applied it to criminal behavior.
-He, unlike others, actually went out there and measured, gathered data, and made empirical observations, unlike many
others at the time.
Lombroso’s Explanation for Why Men are More Violent than Women
Over 1000s of years of human history, competition for survival and for producing offspring has been greater among males
Thus, males are more evolved and more differentiated than females-- and there are more atavists among males than
-His basic argument was that males are more evolved than women. Throughout history, males have had to complete for
survival and mates than women have. Men are innately more sexual with a higher sex drive, thus getting into stronger
competition with other men over women. They are also more likely to be providers an thus have had to compete for
resources. One of the consequences of this great competition that men have faced is that they are more evolved, with
greater size, strength, and intelligence. This is because they have lived more active and cha