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Girls achieve high status in criminal street gangs because of their people skills, research shows

Posted April 30, 2014

Girls and young women can achieve influence and high status in criminal street gangs because of their people skills, the British Sociological Association annual conference.

Dr Simon Harding, of Middlesex University, spoke to members of gangs in South London and found that ‘ superior social skills could often give them an advantage over less streetwise male members.

The girls made use of these skills to carry out trusted tasks such as money laundering or banking, alongside more practical tasks for gangs such as smuggling weapons in their prams or hiding drug stashes, he said.

Dr Harding said his research challenged the traditional view of girls as powerless hangers-on who had to suffer rape or other abuse as the price of belonging to the .

He talked to members of four gangs aged 16-25 in Lambeth over four years. He found that the males in the gangs “achieve status within the gang by violence and criminal activity – the rougher, tougher and nastier they are, the higher their status.

“But the girls and  could gain status in a different way through their social skills – they can become quite important players but not though violence or brutality. They deal in information – trading and exchanging this daily.

“In the gang world information is vital if you’re going to be successful at fighting off rivals and staying ahead of the police.

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