Young women and gang violence: Gender, street offending, and violent victimization in gangs

Jody Miller, Scott H. Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Drawing on multiple data sources in St. Louis, this article examines how gendered situational dynamics shape gang violence, including participation in violent offending and experiences of violent victimization. Combining an analysis of in-depth interviews with young women in St. Louis gangs with an examination of homicide reports from the same city, we find that young women, even regular offenders, highlight the significance of gender in shaping and limiting their involvement in serious violence. They use gender both to accomplish their criminal activities and to temper their involvement in gang crime. Consequently their risk for serious physical victimization in gangs is considerably less than young men’s. St. Louis homicide data collaborate these qualitative findings. Not only are young women much less likely to be the victims of gang homicide, but the vast majority of female gang homicide victims were not the intended targets of the attack. In contrast, homicide reports suggest that the majority of male gang homicide victims were the intended targets. We suggest that gendered group processes and stratification within gangs are key factors explaining both violent offending and victimization risk in gangs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-140
Number of pages25
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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