A little while ago, I wrote a post about the benefits of promoting more women to the Board (in short, it seems that companies with more female influence at the top act more morally). But in the spirit of equality, I really should reveal that other research I have done has shown that, in crime at least, women are, in the words of Rex Harrison, becoming more like men. Two areas in particular see women taking on criminal roles traditionally assumed by men.
In the first, as in so many businesses, the greater freedoms afforded to women by more effective birth control and better access to education are now allowing women to scale the higher rungs of mafia organisations. Of course, gender bias in these “firms” is still pretty strong, but with Concetta Scalisi now one of the highest-ranking members of the Sicilian Scalisi family, Maria Licciardi earning the nickname “La Madrina” (the godmother) and a place on Italy’s list of its thirty most wanted criminals, and Erminia Giuliano operating a syndicate from Naples (and demanding a beautician’s appointment before agreeing to be arrested), time are changing. And the reason I’m telling you this? Well, one of the areas of mafia activity that is being farmed out to the women is their money laundering. As we all know, to be a successful money launderer you need to be a people person: likeable, educated, tactful and patient. Not qualities generally associated with mobsters – but more discernible in their wives, mothers and sisters (developed over years of dealing with volatile menfolk, perhaps). And indeed, research by Dr Michael Kilchling of the Max Planck Institute in Freiburg in Germany showed that between 1993 to 1997, women made up 35.7% of mafia money laundering convictions.
And in the second, again, criminals seem to be spotting the potential of using the gentler, softer skills of women to gain the trust of victims. In its most recent “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons”, published in December 2014, the UN revealed that 28% of convicted people traffickers are women. Averaging across all crimes, only 10-15% of convicted offenders are women – so people trafficking is obviously a boom business for female criminals. Again, it is easy to see why: all other things being equal, potential victims are more likely to trust an approach from a woman than from a man (especially as 70% of trafficking victims are female).
I’m all for equality, of course, but crime is the one area that I would have been perfectly happy to leave to the male of the species.