Research conducted during the past twenty years has not provided definitive answers to questions concerning the effect of gender on criminal justice decision making. Some researchers conclude that females receive preferential treatment, while other conclude either that there are no differences or that females are treated more harshly than males. This study uses data on male and female defendants charged with violent felonies to examine the effect of gender on seven case processing decisions. We also probe for interactions between defendant gender and defendant race. We find that female defendants are more likely than male defendants to have all of the charges against them dismissed and that females are sentenced less harshly than males. We also find that gender and race interact. The results of our analysis cast doubt on the validity of the so-called “evil woman thesis” and highlight the importance of testing an interactive model that incorporates the effects of both gender and race.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies