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Young Women and Gang Violence: Gender, Street Offending, and Violent Victimization in Gangs

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 18 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2001 Pages: 115-140
Date Published
March 2001
26 pages

This study examines how gendered situational dynamics shape gang violence.


The study was based on in-depth interviews with young women in St. Louis gangs and homicide reports from the same city. The women, even regular offenders, highlighted the significance of gender in shaping and limiting their involvement in serious violence. They used gender both to accomplish their criminal activities and to temper their involvement in gang crime. Consequently, their risk for serious physical victimization in gangs was considerably less than young men's. Not only were young women much less likely to be victims of gang homicide, the vast majority of female gang homicide victims were not the intended targets of the attack. In contrast, the majority of male gang homicide victims were the intended targets. The study concludes that women's lower level of involvement in gang homicide, as both victims and offenders, may reflect their lower rates of participation in gang life. Apparently, it is the nature of young women's gang involvement that is at issue. At the situational level, gendered group processes and stratification within gangs are key factors that help explain both violent offending and victimization risk in gangs. Notes, tables, references

Date Published: March 1, 2001