For most of us, the phrase "gender and organized crime" is evocative of a limited series of social constructs and famous characters. In this Module, we have aimed to look beyond these often-stereotypical constructions, to provide a more nuanced characterization of why taking a closer look at gender in the study of organized crime matters. Gender is an important factor in the way people deal with the authorities and the law - and how these define and affect them.
Interlocking systems of power and inequality impact people differently. Gender, race and class come together to constitute not only the ways we learn to think about each other, but also shape the ways criminal justice systems around the world perceive and punish organized crime. When we talk about organized crime and gender we are therefore not merely talking about the roles that women play in the "business" or women as the romantic interests of drug dealers. Using a gender lens allows us to see how most criminal markets are highly gendered, with women occupying some leadership positions but, most often, covering peripheral or supporting roles. These roles, however, have increasingly become among the most criminalized. Women often lack the social and financial capital that may allow them to obtain more lenient sentences. This, among other factors, has led to more women becoming incarcerated for minor offences in many regions around the world.
This Module is an effort to shed light on these issues in the classroom. It seeks to enhance students' understanding of organized crime and gender, the need to better study the ways in which gender becomes implicated in criminal justice administration, and to provide tools to help lecturers support exchange and interaction on this issue. The Module also aims to get lecturers and students to share their stories, experiences and lessons learned across national borders to better understand the gendered nature of crime and organized crime in particular, and in turn, address the implications on the lives of people everywhere and the potential of crime prevention.