Criminology Gendered Crime Pathways
Breanna Boppre
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 February 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 February 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0295


Within the field of criminology, research has been devoted toward understanding individuals’ pathways into crime, which consider important circumstances and events over the life course starting during childhood. However, the initial research in this area was generalized, and it largely neglected potential variation across gender. Arguably, general pathways research was not truly representative of all individuals as the theoretical perspective was developed using primarily samples of boys and men. Consequently, the gendered pathways perspective emerged to account for girls and women’s distinct pathways to crime. Since then, other scholars have also applied a gendered lens to consider boys and men’s pathways as well. Ultimately, using a gendered lens to understand individuals’ pathways accounts for the biological, psychological, and social circumstances that shape both entry into criminal behavior and societal responses. While adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse, poverty, and parental incarceration, impact pathways among both boys and girls, reactions, coping mechanisms, and legal responses vary across gender, leading to specific contexts of pathways to crime.

General Overviews

The gendered pathways perspective can be traced back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. Boppre, et al. 2018 provides a brief overview of the gendered pathways perspective. DeHart and Lynch 2021 supplies a book-length summary of the gendered pathways perspective with a focus on women. Yingling 2016 also presents a methodological overview of the gendered pathways perspective.

  • Boppre, B., E. J. Salisbury, and J. Parker. 2018. Pathways to crime. In Oxford research encyclopedia of criminology and criminal justice. Edited by H. Pontell and K. Holtfreter. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    An online encyclopedia entry summarizing gendered pathways to crime.

  • DeHart, D., and S. Lynch. 2021. Women’s and girl’s pathways though the legal system addressing trauma, mental health, and marginalization. San Diego, CA: Cognella Academic.

    A book summarizing women and girl’s pathways into the legal system with direct quotes from Dehart and Lynch’s prior qualitative research.

  • Yingling, J. 2016. Gendered pathways to crime. In The handbook of measurement issues in criminology and criminal justice. Edited by B. M. Huebner and T. S. Bynum, 181–201. Chichester, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781118868799.ch9

    A chapter that summarizes methodological approaches used to study the gendered pathways perspective.

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