Examining the Impact of Ecological Contexts on Gender Disparity in Federal Sentencing

Byungbae Kim, Xia Wang, Hyunjung Cheon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Gender disparity in sentencing outcomes has been well established in literature. Recent research has increasingly paid attention to social contexts within which judicial decision-making occurs. This study combines these two lines of research by dissecting the nature of gender disparity through ecological lenses. Using 2008–2010 federal sentencing data, we examine the roles of religious and political conservatism in affecting gender-based sentencing disparity. We find that religious and political conservatism reduces gender disparity, with the female discount dissipating in court communities with higher levels of religious and political conservatism. We also find that the conditioning effects of both religious conservatism and political conservatism on gender disparity further interact with race, with black female defendants more likely to be influenced by religious and political conservatism than their white counterparts. Overall, this study contributes to sentencing literature by demonstrating that gender disparity is deeply entrenched in the ecological contexts of court communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-502
Number of pages37
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 16 2019


  • ecological contexts
  • federal sentencing
  • gender disparity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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