The role of women in crime was, for a long time, neglected. This fact changed during the 1970s, period in which the number of international studies about women in crime increased. In a social dimension, women were commonly confined to private sphere and only men had roles in the public domain. In Portugal, the studies of gender and crime only emerged in the 1980s, later than in other European countries, with few authors, predominantly female.
In general, first theorists on the criminal behavior argued women commit fewer crimes than men due to their physical and emotional characteristics, such as maternity, sexual coldness, weakness and underdeveloped intelligence. However, according to other perspectives women do commit crimes but use a broad of justifications, such as the increase of social opportunities, crime as way to reach power or differences in the type of crimes (“masked crimes”).
Considering specifically the organized crime, international studies had always focused on men’s crime. Nevertheless, some recent studies show that women took a relevant role in criminal organization as well as in some periods of history.
From this point on, and as a part of a PhD research, we aim to examine the role women have in organized crime in Europe nowadays and, to do so, we question what role may gender studies play in understanding gender roles inside criminal organizations, a crime that is traditionally, considering its nature, seen as violent and, therefore, male.