Sociology Gender and Crime
Francesca Spina
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0243


Scholars and practitioners paid little attention to the subject of gender and crime until the 1960s. However, this topic began to gain attention as a result of the political and social changes of the women’s movement, as well as the civil rights movement. Prior to that, men engaging in crime was the norm, and women who engaged in crime were seen as anomalies. Criminology scholars started to think of gender and crime differently, recognizing how the vastness of this topic could lead to opportunities in this previously under-researched area. Researchers began examining issues related to inequality, differences in offending between men and women, and female victims of male violence. In the 21st century, scholars often focus on intersectionality, taking the effects of race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, and other factors into consideration. Furthermore, research on gender and crime also examines the different pathways men and women have into crime. Consequently, it is important to research prevention and treatment programs that address female offenders’ unique needs, including histories of childhood trauma, mental illness, and substance abuse. Finally, as more women are entering the field of criminal justice, research has focused on some of the challenges they face in law enforcement and legal professions.

General Overviews

There are a number of comprehensive textbooks on gender and crime. These books present issues on gender and crime by examining research, policy, and practice. They cover topics such as theories of offending, offending patterns, victimization, justice experiences, women as criminal justice professionals, and juveniles. While each of these textbooks offers a wide variety of topics related to gender and crime, they are each unique. Thurma 2019 examines the influence of female grassroots activists who fought against gendered violence in the 1970s. Belknap 2015 focuses on current issues related to gender in crime such as sex trafficking and stalking, while Chesney-Lind and Pasko 2013 concentrate on narratives to complement their material. Meanwhile, Chesney-Lind and Shelden 2014 focus on issues in gender and crime specific to girls and delinquency, while Mallicoat 2018 devotes much attention to matters related to race and diversity. Furthermore, Barak et al. 2018 emphasize the roles of intersectionality and privilege in the criminal justice system, while Peterson and Panfil 2014 discuss issues that are unique to LGBTQ populations. Finally, Barberet 2014 focuses on international topics related to women and crime, and Thompson and Gibbs 2017 concentrate specifically on deviance.

  • Barak, Gregg, Paul Leighton, and Allison Cotton. 2018. Class, race, gender, and crime: The social realities of justice in America 5th ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Introduces readers to the correlates of crime (e.g., gender, race, and class), as well as how these factors intersect. The authors discuss the complexity of gender and race in different aspects of the criminal justice system, including law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. They also explore how power and privilege in the United States shape our understanding of crime.

  • Barberet, Rosemary. 2014. Women, crime and criminal Justice: A global enquiry. New York: Routledge.

    This book focuses on international issues related to women and crime. The book discusses global factors related to female offenders, violence against women, and women working in justice-related professions. Topics include globalization, women’s activism, femicide, sex trafficking, and women’s access to justice.

  • Belknap, Joanne. 2015. The invisible woman: Gender, crime and justice. 4th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

    Provides an overview of many issues related to crime and justice. It covers female offending, including theories related to their offending, processing women in the system, and incarcerated women. It also discusses gender-based abuse, such as sexual abuse and domestic violence. Finally, this book includes sections on women working in law enforcement, correctional settings, and the courts.

  • Chesney-Lind, Meda, and Lisa Pasko. 2013. The female offender: Girls, women and crime. 3d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    This is another comprehensive book looking at offending patterns of women and girls. It discusses girls’ delinquency, girls and violence, as well as girls in the juvenile justice system. Furthermore, it covers trends in women’s crime, sentencing women to prison, and supervising female offenders in the community.

  • Chesney-Lind, Meda, and Randall Shelden. 2014. Girls, delinquency and juvenile justice. 4th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

    Covers topics specific to girls and delinquency. They discuss the nature and extent of girls’ delinquency, girls who join gangs, and theories related to their delinquency. Moreover, this book also covers pathways to girls’ delinquency, girls and the juvenile justice system, and programs to help girls who have been involved in the system.

  • Mallicoat, Stacy. 2018. Women, gender and crime: A text/reader. 3d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Discusses issues of gender and crime by incorporating themes of race and diversity. Topics include theories of victimization, female victimization, women offenders, girls and delinquency, sentencing female offenders, women and the correctional system, and women working in the justice system.

  • Peterson, Dana, and Vanessa R. Panfil, eds. 2014. Handbook of LGBT communities, crime, and justice. New York: Springer.

    LGBTQ populations are under-researched among criminology scholars. This book explores LGBTQ communities and their offending patterns. It also examines their experiences with law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. Discusses topics such as same-sex intimate partner violence, transgender sex workers, transgender correctional policies, LGBT police officers, and bullying LGBT youth.

  • Thompson, William, and Jennifer Gibbs. 2017. Deviance and deviants: A sociological approach. Malden, MA: John Wiley.

    Examines how deviance is defined and constructed, as well as what it means to be a “deviant.” Covers sexual, physical, and mental deviances, in addition to deviant occupations. Topics include substance abuse, suicide, and cyber deviance, among others. Throughout the book, the authors also debunk many myths associated with being deviant.

  • Thurma, Emily L. 2019. All our trials: Prisons, policing, and the feminist fight to end violence. Champaign: Univ. of Illinois Press.

    Focuses on the organizing and influence of female grassroots activists who fought against gendered violence and incarceration in the 1970s. Discusses the activists’ struggles to fight for gender, racial, and economic justice. She uses historical research and narratives to discuss local coalitions and national gatherings that aimed to showcase issues in marginalized communities and to end violence.

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