It is a crux. There is disparity everywhere, even in the dens of high organized crime.
While “recent evidence suggests that the crime gender gap is closing, both in crime in general and in organized crime, … 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“.
Clearly, that has to change but prior to that a solid analysis is sorely needed. To this end, fortunately, a paper has been released.
First we need a definition of what a crime gender gap is and, yes, hormones come into play.
“The crime gender gap is the difference between the participation of men and women in crime, with men responsible for more crime than women. The crime gender gap is one of the most persistent and well-documented patterns in social sciences [1–3]. There are numerous explanations for the underlying processes behind this pattern, such as different structure of opportunities for males and females, differential influence of deviant peers, different cognitive or emotional predispositions, and even biologically- oriented explanations linking differences in crime to hormonal differences.”
First the good news. It is well established that “the gap between men’s and women’s participation in, and outcomes from, legal economic activity has narrowed in recent decades“. “This raises the question of whether similar trends are present in the illegal economy.“
Only a truly egalitarian society can foster general well-being, so let’s look at recent or fairly recent numbers. Spoiler alert, it does not look good for women. One can totally forget American 1930’s mafia settings. It is hopeless, yet even contemporary evidence supports no better picture.
“A study of Dutch organized crime found women constituting 11% of all offenders, in an Italian mafia study, women accounted for 2% of offenders, and in an Australian study, women represented 6% of 2172 offenders”.
Pathetic numbers. What is impeding the women you wonder? It is their “potentially less advantageous ends of open brokerage structures“.
“However, our modelling results indicate that women are overall less likely to participate in the network, when they participate they associate significantly more frequently with other women, and they tend to be on the potentially less advantageous ends of open brokerage structures. These results provide evidence for an ongoing gender gap in organized crime.”
It is the same dilemma as in the STEM academic disciplines. Women are less present, prevented from joining networks, overall they are lacking learning opportunities and become involved in conspiracies.
“… women are both less present and less active in the network of organized criminals connected to the Canadian province of Alberta may reflective of a systemic lack of opportunities for women to participate in organized crime, or systemic constraints preventing women from joining the network. For example, women may lack opportunities to form network ties because they are excluded from convergence settings such as dive bars where criminal collaborations arise and crimes are planned  and so they are unable to learn about criminal opportunities or become involved in criminal conspiracies”.
Added to that is the perception that women are less trustworthy.
“… some research suggests that male criminals’ perceptions that women are untrustworthy, unreliable, or weak is a barrier to women’s entry into, and acquisition of advantageous positions within, organized crime” and “when women do participate they tend to occupy the potentially disadvantageous ends of open brokerage structures, with men occupying the broker position, suggests that women may be ‘used’ by men for what resources they have, without exercising true power in the form of the coordination or orchestration of criminal activities.”
Basically it’s niche activities or segments of the criminal supply chain that are open to women. Not a pretty picture when you are being associated with human trafficking.
“The observation that women tend to ‘flock together’ also implies that when women do participate in organized crime it may be in niche activities or segments of the criminal supply chain that are open to women, such as sex or human trafficking. Taken together, these findings provide evidence that women tend to participate in organized crime either in peripheral, low-power positions or in groups with other women, in accordance with some previous findings.”
On that bomb shell there is only one sad conclusion, “it appears that organized crime continues to be predominantly ‘a man’s world’”.
However, there is hope.