Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Mark Costanzo


Past research has produced mixed findings regarding the roles of gender stereotypes in criminal sentencing. Usually, women receive preferential treatment; however, studies have shown that women receive harsher sentencing than men under certain circumstances. In light of these findings, we argued that the Chivalry and Paternalism thesis shows how women are exempted from harsh punishment when their crimes align with negative gender stereotypes, resulting in lenient treatment most of the time. Additionally, we argued that women receive harsher sentencing when their crimes violate positive gender stereotypes while men receive harsher sentencing when their crimes 1) violate positive gender stereotypes or 2) align with negative ones. To evaluate this theory, we examined how gender stereotypes and type of crime affected perceptions of responsibility, sentencing severity, and likelihood of recidivism. Using a 2 x 3 mixed factorial design, we manipulated two independent variables: gender of perpetrator and type of crime. To measure the effects of these manipulations, we used three dependent variables: (a) perpetrator responsibility (b) sentencing severity and (c) likelihood of recidivism. One hundred and eleven participants (61 women, 49 men, and 1 non-binary) were randomly assigned to 3 of 6 conditions. Additionally, a gender stereotype endorsement score was included to reveal each participant’s endorsement of gender stereotypes. Results showed that perpetrator gender had no significant effect on responsibility, sentencing severity, or likelihood of recidivism and that gender stereotype endorsement was an insignificant covariate. Based on these findings, perhaps gender stereotypes do not play a significant role in sentencing.

Included in

Criminal Law Commons