Self-perceptions, masculinity and female offenders

Victoria Herrington, Claire Nee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is generally accepted that men commit more crime than women; a statistic that has led many to look for an explanation for such disparity between the sexes. One explanation has proposed that masculinity and crime are inherently linked, and apparent increases in female offending in recent years has led some to conclude that this must be the result of women's increased masculinity. Research aimed at identifying this increase has failed to yield consistent results. This study utilised a self-perception measure of masculinity and femininity to explore this idea with four groups of women. A total of ninety-seven violent female offenders, non-violent female offenders, full time mothers and professional women were questioned. Results found that offenders perceived themselves as possessing significantly more masculine characteristics than non-offenders, and that violent offenders perceived themselves as the most masculine. Specifically, more offenders perceived themselves as glamorous, adventurous and rude, and more violent offenders thought of themselves as aggressive. Perceptions of a 'typical women' were also measured in an attempt to measure how different participants' viewed themselves from other women. All of our women saw 'her' as more feminine and less masculine than themselves. Reasons for these findings and issues around perceptions are discussed. The authors conclude that further, qualitative explorations of the concepts of masculinity and femininity amongst these populations need to be undertaken before one can definitively link masculinity and criminality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalInternet Journal of Criminology
Issue numberOnline
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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