Women's perceptions, attitudes and behaviour towards corruption

Studies in behavioural and social sciences have found differing patterns of attitudes and behaviour between men and women when it comes to social issues, risk-taking and criminal behaviour[1]. Experimental studies controlling for external factors such as "the risk of being caught" have also demonstrated that women tend to behave more honestly than men and are more concerned about fairness in their decisions[2].

With regard to corrupt behaviour, there are gender differences in how men and women perceive, experience and tolerate corruption, and these have been empirically confirmed. An influential study analysing gender differences in attitudes to the acceptability of different forms of corruption found that women are less involved in bribery and are less likely to condone bribe taking[3]. Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer consistently finds that women are less likely than men to pay bribes[4]. According to some research, when engaging in corruption, women are also significantly less aggressive in the amount they extract than their male counterparts[5]. This is also true in the private sector, where some research indicates that female-owned businesses pay less in bribes, and corruption is seen as less of an obstacle in companies where women are represented in top management[6].

Some scholars have explained these different patterns of attitudes and behaviours between men and women through differences in risk-taking behaviours, arguing that women are more risk-averse due to their social roles, which entrusts them with the care of children and elders in the family[7]. Women also appear to be more vulnerable to punishment and the risks involved in corruption due to explicit or tacit gender discrimination. As a result, they feel greater pressure to conform to existing political norms about corruption[8]. Therefore, in professional settings, they are less likely to engage in corruption for fear of being caught and losing their jobs. Laboratory corruption experiments confirmed this hypothesis, finding that women tend to react more strongly to the risk of detection[9].


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