Sociological Explanations For Gender Differences

936 Words Apr 21st, 2015 4 Pages
Outline and Assess Sociological Explanations for Gender Differences in Crime Rates

Current statistics show that men commit 80% of all crime and women commit only 20%. However there are arguments to suggest that the statistics highlight an under representation of female criminality, and there are many sociological arguments to suggest that female criminals are treated more leniently. On the other hand, some sociologists believe women are treated more harshly when they commit certain types of crime. This essay aims to assess the reasons for gender differences in reported crime rates.

Official crime rates are measured by crimes reported and recorded by the police and criminal justice system, and are collected by the Home Office. Frances Heidensohn (1975) believes that male criminality is 5 times higher than female criminality, which current data supports. However, Otto Pollak (1961) was the first sociologist to argue that crime rates for female crime were inaccurate. He believed that women were treated more leniently by the police and criminal justice system, which highlighted the under representation of female criminality in the official statistics. He argued that women were more likely to commit crimes such as petty theft, prostitution and criminal abortions, which were then likely to be treated more leniently. Pollak’s theories have been widely criticised and may not be relevant today; indeed he failed to take into account the decriminalisation of abortion in many of the…
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