Gender and Corporate Fraud

Hilary Tuttle


October 1, 2013


Only 9% of people involved in high-level financial corporate conspiracies are women, according to a new study in the American Sociological Review. The few women who were involved in these crimes typically played minor roles and also stole less, with more than half making only a trivial amount while a third of male conspirators made more than $1 million each. “There has been this view for a while that women are no more moral than men and that once there was more gender equality in the workforce, there would be more females involved in corporate crime,” said Darrell Steffensmeier, professor of sociology and criminology at Penn State University and contributor to the study. Yet, as more women have joined the C-suite, they have continued to be drastically underrepresented in corporate crime. Because women are socialized to take fewer risks for business advantage, Steffensmeier said, the findings suggest placing more women in executive leadership positions may raise ethical standards. “There is reason to believe that over time increasing the number of female CEOs would reduce corporate corruption because women tend to promote a more ethical business culture climate rather than one that promotes personal and corporate profits at all costs,” he said.

Hilary Tuttle is managing editor of Risk Management.