A Man’s world? Comparing the structural positions of men and women in an organized criminal network

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Abstract

The crime gender gap is the difference between the levels of participation of men and women in crime, with men responsible for more crime than women. Recent evidence suggests that the crime gender gap is closing, both in crime in general and in organized crime. However, organized crime differs from other forms of criminal activity in that it entails an organizational structure of cooperation among offenders. Assessing whether the gender gap in organized crime is narrowing is not only about the overall levels of involvement of women, but about their roles and positions within the organized criminal structure, because the involvement of women does not mean that they are in influential positions, or that they have power or access to resources important for the commission of organized crime. This paper uses a social network approach to systematically compare the structural positions of men and women in an organized criminal network. We use a dataset collected by Canadian Law Enforcement consisting of 1390 individuals known or suspected to be involved in organized crime, 185 of whom are women. Our analysis provides evidence for an ongoing gender gap in organized crime, with women occupying structural positions that are generally associated with a lack of power. Overall, women are less present in the network, tend to collaborate with other women rather than with men, and are more often in the disadvantageous position of being connected by male intermediaries. Implications for theory and law enforcement practice are discussed.

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Original languageEnglish
JournalCrime, Law and Social Change
Early online date5 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Aug 2020

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