Are Women Cheating More Now, Closing A Gender Gap To Get Ahead?

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Are women more honest than men? Do women in positions of power behave more ethically than men? Well not so much anymore, according to research by Rutgers University Business School. It seems, women have taken on habits of men to remain competitive...

Are Women Cheating More Now, Closing A Gender Gap To Get Ahead?
Published in The Huffington Post, December 7 2011

The Long Island SAT cheating ring  uncovered last month captured, for many pundits, several dark truths of our times: the crushing competitiveness of college admissions, the moral bankruptcy of the nation's youth  and the power of the moneyed to buy their way ahead. But one element of the scandal raised no comment: Almost everyone involved was a guy.

All of the test takers were male, according to The New York Times, and only one of the 20 arrested suspects has been identified as female.

The case seems to conform with longstanding evidence that cheaters are more likely to be male. The bad news is that scholars of cheating patterns have seen the gender gap shrink -- and not in the direction of greater honesty.

Studies dating back to the 1960s have found that men cheat significantly more than women  in college. Why? Women are more socialized to obey rules, researchers like Stephen TibbetsDavid Ward and Wendy Beck have concluded. Traditionally, girls have two stark options, to be praised as "good girls" or stigmatized as "bad girls." But boys are accepted by their peers and adults whether they are good or bad. So more of them feel free to be bad.

Once grown up, women in business are often viewed as more trustworthy than men. In 2009, the citizens of Iceland elected their first female prime minister, who, as Hanna Rosin noted in The Atlantic, campaigned to end the "age of testosterone " that was supposedly to blame for wrecking that country's economy. And there is some research to support the idea that women have more integrity. One study found that female corporate directors  were more interested in restricting executive pay and increasing risk management than their male counterparts. Dr. Alice Eagly, who studies gender leadership, has found that women in positions of power behave more ethically  than men.

Bottom Line Mentality

But the cheating gender gap may not last long, according to Don McCabe, a professor at Rutgers University Business School who has studied academic integrity for more than 20 years. In a 1997 study, McCabe found that while there were significant cheating differences by gender, those differences nearly vanish when comparing men and women in the same major.

Business and engineering studies, two of the most male-dominated disciplines, are plagued by cheating more than others. This has been found at the undergraduate level and, perhaps more disturbingly, at the graduate level. In a McCabe survey of 5,000 graduate students  in the early 2000s, 56 percent of MBA candidates and 54 percent of budding engineers admitted to cheating at least once in the past year, compared to 39 percent of students in the social sciences and humanities.

The cheaters' attitude "seems to be, 'Hey, you have to -- everybody else does it,'" McCabe explained at the time. "And business students already have developed a bottom line mentality -- anything to get the job done, however you have to do it."

Women aren't above that kind of thinking. "As they enter business and engineering, they've taken on the habits of the men to remain competitive," McCabe told The Huffington Post.

Read the full article in The Huffington Post

Posted by on 12/10/2011

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