Who is more corrupt: men or women?
For those of you blurting out “men are more corrupt”–slow down a bit. Interestingly, it may depend in part on where you live and whether corruption is seen as something to avoid (rather than a fact of life). According to these researchers, women in democratic countries are less likely to tolerate corruption and less likely to act corruptly in comparison to men. But, say the authors, in autocracies, women may feel bound by societal norms–even when those norms include bribery, favoritism and personal loyalty. In other words, being more moral or more pure by virtue of gender alone is a myth.
The researchers collected data on 157 countries (using three organizations that measure and monitor corruption around the world) to assess the occurrence of corruption at a national level. Then they used data from the World Values Survey to see how much individuals across 68 countries tolerated corruption. As mentioned above, they found the relationship between gender and corruption depends on context. There is no “corruption gender gap” in countries where corruption is an expected part of governmental function.
It is tempting to ascribe vast differences to gender. Hence, the popularity of books like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and many others that characterize genders as highly disparate. Some researchers go so far as to say “psychologically, men and women are almost a different species”. These are sensational and attention-grabbing lines but they are largely unsupported by evidence. Men are from Earth and women are also from Earth. Women and men are members of the same species. [Usually.]
There are certainly differences between the genders (when broadly considered). Women tend to be more communal and cooperative. Men are often more individualistic and competitive. But the causes of these differences are not clear. Social, biological, or mysterious– the broad trends persist, but not universally. There are communal and cooperative men. There are individualistic and competitive women. Behaviors and characteristics exist on a continuum for all of us.
It’s part of why we bang the drum so often that gender is simply not a good predictor of how individual people are going to react to your case. We’ve worked on a case where the Defendant engaged in wildly inappropriate sexual behavior but he was so matter-of-fact and honest about it that both male and female jurors supported him. We’ve worked on a case where a man legally engaged in behavior that allowed him to profit from deceiving his spouse. Both male and female jurors wanted to punish him despite cracking jokes in awe over his powers of deception. We’ve had business disputes where some men and women jurors say, “it isn’t illegal but it sure isn’t right”. In those same disputes, their opposing male and female counterparts say, “it’s just business”.
It isn’t about gender. It’s about context, socialization, attitudes, beliefs and values. We come out of the womb either male or female. The road we travel to adulthood is filled with experiences that uniquely shape our perspectives. Where we end up, in terms of our worldview and belief system, shapes our reactions to everything–including your litigation case. In short, you don’t want male or female jurors. You want people, either male or female, who can hear your case facts, assess the narrative, and come to conclusions based on the evidence provided (as flavored by their own values, beliefs, and attitudes).
Esarey, Justin, & Chirillo, Gina (2013). ‘Fairer Sex’ or Purity Myth? Corruption, Gender, and Institutional Context. Politics and Gender