An Examination Of The Gender Gap And Gender Profile In Federal Trade Commission Bureau Of Consumer Protection Violations

Open Access
Swantek, Kristen Rose
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Darrell J Steffensmeier, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stacy Silver, Honors Advisor
  • Criminology
  • gender
  • gender gap
  • gender profile
  • ftc
  • federal trade commission
  • fraud
  • financial fraud
  • fraud violations
In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) helped to return close to $8 billion to US consumers who had fallen prey to various financial frauds. Despite the wide and far reaching effect of these frauds, there is a lack of research on gender and the nature of the defendants who commit them. This thesis therefore aims to address the missing information by examining federal commerce and trade violations that fall under the Bureau of Consumer Protection within the Federal Trade Commission (FTC/CP). This thesis collected data from press releases and court documents found on the FTC website in order to examine the extent of female involvement, the gender gap, and within-sex profiles for the defendants who operate these schemes. Examining the relationship between gender and level of involvement in the fraud; gender and the organization of fraud incidents (solo male, all male, solo female, all female, and mixed-gender); gender and the role played in the mixed-gender frauds; and gender and the amount of restitution the defendant is ordered to pay, this study aims to answer the questions: (1) What effect does gender have on the level of involvement in Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection violations? (2) What effect does gender have on the organization of the offending group (solo male, all male, solo female, all female, or mixed-gender)? (3) What effect does gender have on the roles that women play in mixed-gender incidents of FTC/CP financial fraud? And (4) What effect does gender have on the amount of restitution the defendants were ordered to pay? After coding and analyzing the data, the findings indicate that males were much more likely than females to be involved in FTC/CP financial fraud with women comprising only 20.6% of all offenders. Women, compared to men, were more likely to commit financial fraud in mixed-gender offending groups instead of as a solo offender or in all-female groups; 90.5% of all female offenders worked in mixed-gender groups compared to only 40% of all male offenders. Male defendants were involved in 96% of all cases as compared to 80% off all defendants. The study also found that women were less likely than men to play the ringleader in mixed-gender incidents with women comprising only 10% of the ringleaders in mixed-gender groups. Finally, women were more likely to pay less restitution for their frauds compared to males with 29.2% of males paying more than 15 million compared to only 15% of females. The findings were mostly consistent with previous studies, notably, research by Steffensmeier and colleagues that investigated the effects of gender on involvement in corporate financial fraud. This thesis concludes by examining the limitations posed on the study as well as suggestions for additional research.