UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Women are much less likely to be involved in lucrative crimes and are treated as outsiders in the male-dominated underworld, a Pennsylvania State University professor said Wednesday.
Male criminals do not trust women and feel they are physically and emotionally unfit to handle the secrecy and violence associated with the underworld, Darrell Steffensmeier, and associate sociology professor said.
'Men who populate and control the world of crime prefer to work, associate and do buisness with other men,' Steffensmeier said. 'Women are less likely to be selected by men for criminal operations because they are considered outsiders.'
For this reason, he said, 'Women are much less likely to be involved in lucrative crimes.'
In research spanning five years, Steffensmeier said he found that when women are co-opted in crime, they play 'secondary roles,' such as the drop-off driver for robberies or a decoy in burglaries.
'(Women) are sometimes referred to as the 'mules' in the business,' Steffensmeier said. 'And if men do use them, they will not share the proceeds evenly. Men will keep the bulk of it.'
Steffensmeier's findings, based on interviews of both male and female criminals, police officers and corrections officials, were reported in the June edition of the journal Social Forces.
Male criminals are 'also somewhat chivalrous. They define crime as being unfeminine,' he said, adding that 'men risk status by working with women.'
Steffensmeier said the attitutes of male criminals reflect the sexist values of society in general. 'The old-boy network is really what is operating here,' he said.
While men commit a wide range of serious crimes, he said, women are more involved in such offenses as prostitution, shoplifting, con games and passing bad checks.