When you think of a stereotypical criminal, you tend to think of a male. It is unlikely the image of a female will come to mind when imagining a criminal. And if you look at prison statistics, you might think this stereotype was justified. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, in Canada females only make up 5% of the prison population, and in the USA this figure goes up to 6.9%. Furthermore, 81% of the women in prison in the USA are in prison for non-violent crimes.

While there are still much less women in prison than men, the rate of women being convicted is rising drastically, faster than the rate of men, suggesting this “criminal gap” is fast closing. There is debate about whether this rise is due to reporting and conviction policies, or whether women are genuinely starting to commit more crimes.

The FBI (2010) found that the most common offences committed by women where theft, driving under the influence, and drug offences. Considering it’s so uncommon for women to commit crime, theories on why some women do become criminal are extremely useful. Here are five possible explanations for female criminality.

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Hi! I'm a 4th year Psychology student studying for an MSci in Psychology and Psychological Research, with the plan of going into research afterwards. I have a keen interest in a lot of topics in psychology, including forensic, developmental and abnormal. I also actually enjoy statistics! In my spare time, I like to listen to music, read and play video games.


  1. So basically we all humans have the urge of doing criminal things but it is the social, gender, believing etc. the things that hold us back to actually doing it right? I think that the increasing of women in criminal stuff is not just like “man can do it, then I can do it too” I think is more that the world in which we live is making both men and women to feel trapped in debt and discrimination that the only “possible” way out for them is to commit a crime.

  2. This was a very interesting article. I remember reading another article on a related topic here on Psych2Go; it was called “Do Good-Looking People Get Away With Crimes?”. Maybe you should check it out, maybe you’d like it. At any rate, as an editor here at Psych2Go I couldn’t help but notice that you included a lot of very good in-text citations, but you didn’t have a reference section at the end of the article. Don’t forget to include your references in your future articles. But, still, this was a very good article.


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