Do Female Legislators Do It Differently? Sex Offender Lawmaking at the State Level

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This investigation explores sex offender bill sponsorship by male and female legislators from both political parties to determine if female policymakers legislate in a “different voice.” Quantitative results indicate that sex offender bill sponsorship often transcends differences of gender, race, or political affiliation. However, the in-depth qualitative findings revealed that female policymakers viewed sex crimes and sex offender laws more broadly than male legislators noting the multiple contexts in which sexual victimizations occur, and as connected with the larger social problem of violence against women. In comparison, male legislators focused on predatory child molestations as their motivation for sex offender bill sponsorship. Findings suggest that relying only on descriptive statistical analysis to study gender and policymaking, such as voting patterns, is likely to miss subtle, but significant, differences in women’s policymaking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-325
Number of pages23
JournalFeminist Criminology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 23 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Law


  • female legislators
  • gender and policymaking
  • sex offender bills
  • state legislatures

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