Are females more ethical than males? Some studies point in this direction. A Newsday opinion piece wrote that they were. The author points to a study by Roberta Bampton and Patrick Maclagan, which states that women tend to justify actions based on an ethics of compassion while men adhered more to proper procedures or law and rules.
Two examples are given: women find it unacceptable for a company to manufacture equipment used by police and military to extract information from prisoners, while many more men didn’t object to the practice. Given the choice of an organic farm buying cheaper products overseas that would harm the environment because of carbon emissions and use of fuel, nearly all men in the survey would make the switch to increase profits while about half the women did.
Does this mean that women have the ethical edge? No. The reason is that there are times in which compassion is the ethical standard but there are times when adherence to rules is better.
Take the situation with which I am familiar: giving grades. Every semester there are students who have genuine hardship stories. But can I give grades based on their personal set-backs or do I adhere to more objective standard? What about a student who did little work because of an on-going illness in the family but needs to pass this required class for graduation?