Are women less corrupt than men? Depends on cultural expectations

Are women less corrupt than men?

There is definitely a relationship between gender and corruption. However, it all depends on cultural expectations, according to political science researchers at Rice University.

Their report, titled “Fairer Sex’ or Purity Myth? Corruption, Gender and Institutional Context”, reveals that women are more likely to criticize political corruption if they live in countries where corruption is frowned upon.

Women living in countries where making policy decisions for private gain are punished by courts tend to be much less tolerant of corruption.

Justin Esarey, an assistant professor of political science at Rice and the study’s lead author, said:

“The relationship between gender and corruption appears to depend on context. When corruption is stigmatized, as in most democracies, women will be less tolerant and less likely to engage in it compared with men.

But if ‘corrupt’ behaviors are an ordinary part of governance supported by political institutions, there will be no corruption gender gap.”

There is research to suggest that levels of perceived corruption are lower when more women participate in government. However, Esarey commented that his study shows that this relationship does not occur in autocracies – where women are less likely to challenge the system.

Esarey said that bringing more women into government would not necessarily reduce corruption.

Esarey stressed:

“States that have more corruption tend to be less democratic. In autocracies, bribery, favoritism and personal loyalty are often characteristic of normal government operations and are not labeled as corruption. In short, recruiting women into government would be unlikely to reduce corruption across the board.”

In order to answer the question “Are women less corrupt than men?” Esarey’s research used data collected from 157 countries (between 1998 and 2007) from three different organizations that monitor levels of corruption: Transparency International, the World Bank Governance Indicators, and the International Crisis Risk Group.

In addition, he used data from the World Values Survey (WVS) to evaluate how much people tolerate corruption on an individual level.