Semistructured interviews with active male and female street robbers in St. Louis were used to compare women's and men's accounts of why they commit robbery, as well as how gender organizes the commission of the crime.
The participants included 14 women and 23 men, matched approximately by current age and age at the first robbery. They were recruited on the streets by an ex-offender through the use of snowball sampling in an impoverished neighborhood. The participants ranged from 16 to 46 years of age; the majority were in their late teens to mid-20s. All the men and 12 of the women were black; two women were white. Findings suggested that while women and men express similar motives for robbery, their enactment of the crime is strikingly different. The men used a confrontational manner that included physical violence, a gun, or both. Men tended to rob other men involved in street life. In contrast, women used three main methods. They targeted females in physically confrontational robberies, they targeted males by appearing sexually available, and they took part with males during street robberies of men. This difference partly reflects the practical choices that women make in the context of a gender-stratified street setting. Footnotes, appended list of participants, and 43 references (Author abstract modified)