Clarifying these issues requires asking the prior question of whether women are actually less corrupt than men.We need to understand possible gender differences in corrupt behaviour and in attitudes towards corruption.However, the idea that women are less corrupt than men is probably not without grounds.
The correlation only shows that higher gender inequality is observed together with higher levels of corruption.
It does not control for other potential explanatory variables and says nothing about causality. (2001) – first published as a World Bank working paper in 1999 – and Swamy et al. The first study included controls for civil liberties, income and education, and found that lower levels of corruption were indeed associated with a higher proportion of women in parliaments. (2001) reached the same conclusion, while also showing that lower levels of corruption come along with more women in senior positions in public administration and higher shares of women in the labour force.
A first step to answer this question consists in simply comparing country data on corruption with data on gender inequality.
There are different measures available for both variables.
Are public officials in Georgia reluctant to ask women in the private sector for bribes, knowing that they condemn corruption and are less likely to pay? Their research, however, also showed that data from the World Values Survey indicates that women are less tolerant towards behaviours that could be described as corrupt.
Esarey and Chirillo (2013), using data from the World Values Survey, found that context matters.The resulting policy recommendation by the World Bank in 2001 affirmed that increasing women participation in the public domain would reduce corruption.Sung (2003) noticed early on that both gender equality and lower corruption might be jointly caused by other unaccounted variables, such as the rule of law, freedom of the press, and level of democracy.This evidence seems to confirm that women are more sensitive to social cues. As Chaudhuri (2012) observes, survey responses may not reflect real life behaviour.Case studies and experimental research can help overcome the limitations of surveys and cross-country comparisons.However, even including controls and looking at change in the variables, the type of data and methodology used in these studies do not allow any firm conclusion concerning a causal relationship between gender and corruption.Granting there was a causal relationship, it still would be necessary to determine its direction.Even if it were not to reduce corruption directly, it would contribute to gender equality.U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre Brief 2015:6 (pdf) Chatting about corruption among traffic officers with a taxi driver in Cusco, Peru, you may well hear something like “it used to be easy to ‘convince’ a policeman to turn a blind eye on a traffic violation or some problem with the license, but now that most traffic officers are women, forget about it: they have no mercy!Does less gender inequality – or more women in positions of authority – result in less corruption because women are more honest than men?Or does less corruption improve gender equality, since lower levels of corruption may suppose better access to legal remedies against discrimination, and therefore facilitate women’s access to positions of authority?