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Gender and Crime

Gender is not just something we are or do. It is a feature of society that surrounds us from birth. As it pushes us, as male or female, into different corners in life, gender offers and nurtures some behaviors while it withdraws and dries up others.

The opportunity to commit crime is one of the many consequences of how society sets up a gender order. The social changes that opened business and the professions to women also brought new opportunities for women to commit crime.

Functionalists stress that just as the social classes differ in opportunities for income and education, so they differ in opportunities for crime.

As a result, street crime is higher among the lower social classes and white-collar crime higher among the higher social classes.

The growing crime rates of women illustrate how changing gender roles have given women more access to what sociologists call "illegitimate opportunities."