Why Women Can't Break Corporate Fraud's Glass Ceiling

C’mon, ladies! Why women can’t break the glass ceiling of high-level corporate fraud
Photograph by Cade Martin

Give that shifty-eyed female chief executive officer the benefit of the doubt: A study in the current issue of the American Sociological Review finds that only 9 percent of people involved in high-level financial corporate conspiracies are women. The research, which looks at seven years of data from the federal Corporate Fraud Task Force, notes that female criminals also stole less than their male counterparts—more than half made only a trivial amount from their schemes, while one-third of men made more than $1 million. The study’s authors posit that women are excluded from these conspiracy rings because men see them as less criminally competent. “The glass ceiling effect for involvement in corporate corruption is likely as great or greater than the ceiling that keeps women from climbing the corporate ladder,” says lead author Darrell Steffensmeier, a professor of sociology and criminology at Pennsylvania State University.

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