Are women less corrupt than men? and other gender/corruption questions

The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize has put women’s rights in the spotlight. Gender and corruption have been on Transparency International’s radar from sometime. Our global corruption survey found that women perceive higher levels of corruption than men, but were less likely to report it. Last month Transparency Rwanda published a survey on gender-based corruption in the workplace. Last year we published a working paper on the issue.

In this article, published on the Anti-Corurption Research Network last year, Farzana Nawaz, programme coordinator in the Research and Knowledge Group of the TI secretariat, introduces the issue and some of the problems dealing with the gender angle.

Gender and corruption is a surprisingly recent issue in anti-corruption scholarship. The first wave of research into the gendered dimensions of corruption focused on whether women are more or less corruptible than men, and whether the promotion of women in public life can be an effective anticorruption strategy. A second line of enquiry examined the impact of corruption on women as a group, building on the growing evidence that corruption has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups in society. Both of these strands of research have already generated a wealth of policy-relevant insights that advance our understanding of the interplay between corruption and gender.

Are Women Less Corrupt than Men?

Several early, mainly econometric contributions to this discussion claimed that there is indeed a link between higher representation of women in government and lower levels of corruption. An influential study of 150 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia by the World Bank, for example, came to the conclusion that women are more trustworthy and less prone to corruption, a finding later corroborated by additional research from the World Bank.

However, the concept that women inherently possess greater integrity has been challenged. Anne Marie Goetz argues that this idea fails to account for the ways in which gender relations may limit women’s opportunities to engage in corruption, particularly when corruption functions through all-male networks and forums from which women are excluded. Read more.

Does corruption affect women more than men? Read about the different ways women suffer from corruption, and the ways Transparency International is fighting them worldwide, here.
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About Farzana Nawaz

Farzana Nawaz is the Programme Coordinator of the Anti-Corruption Research Network at Transparency International.

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12 Responses to Are women less corrupt than men? and other gender/corruption questions

  1. Delia Matilde FERREIRA RUBIO 7 October 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    Excellent, Farzana! I will share this in my FB

  2. George Papaioannou 11 October 2011 at 1:04 am #

    Thanks for the interesting summary of the existing argumentation on gender corruption. I have dealt recently with corruption in infrastructure, i believe that gender corruption patterns will be my new hotspot. If you don’t mind i will copy the article on my site (fully referenced.

    thank you very much Farzana

  3. Farzana Nawaz 11 October 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Dear Delia and George, many thanks for your kind comments on the post. Please do feel free to distribute the article through your websites or social media.

    We are also working on an update to the Gender and Corruption article which will be published towards the end of the year. Looking forward to continuing this discussion!



  4. George Papaioannou 11 October 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Thank you Farzana. All the best to you and will be looking forward to reading the updates.

    Also, i presume that a discussion on the relation of corruption, government legitimacy and the effect to public debt crises could be a fascinating field in corruption that potentially could be examined with a lot of material especially from countries in the periphery of the EU that at present times are facing public debt crises (e.g Greece).
    A lot can be said about the hypothesized effect of the party corrupt mechanism on public debt formulation that was the status quo for more than 40 years and has prevailed after the formulation of the Modern Greek democracy in 1974 following the reversal of the military regime.

    kindest regards,
    keep up the excellent work

  5. John Christmas 11 October 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    I used to work for a bank that turned out to be a completely-corrupt organized-crime group. In my group at the bank, my colleagues were women. All of them had the same mentality: they hated crime and they hated their employer but they rationalized promotion of their employer by imagining that they had no choice in life. This was the issue for them: fight criminality or surrender and appease. I chose the former and they all chose the latter because they did not want to be confrontational.

  6. Titus Gwemende 18 October 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    Thank you Farzana for this critical piece and references.Indeed gender and corruption is an underdeveloped branch of inquiry.My own experience from Zimbabwe is staggering.Expecting women are charged by other women nurses $5 per scream during labour so they they get preferential treatment whilst in hospital like everyone else!The issue was taken up to key women political leaders and they ignored it just like the male counterparts.So poor women especially, are generally victim to unconscinable and disproportionate and largely male perpetrated corruption.I wish more empirical research would be done on this critical subject.Thanks!

  7. Farzana Nawaz 19 October 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Dear Titus,

    Many thanks for the feedback. You are absolutely right, the particular burdens on women, especially at the point of service delivery is a largely ignored area. We are trying to find better data on this issue from organisations such as UNIFEM, WHO, etc. and will also be drawing on the work of TI national chapters in future updates to our reports. If you know of any good sources or organisations that are working on this topic then please do let me know.

    All the best,



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