Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Grace Telesco

Committee Member

Chad Waxman

Committee Member

Douglas Thompkins

Committee Member

Marcelo Castro


Criminal Motivation, Female Offending, Gendered Pathways, Intra-Gender Entrapment, Quantitative Research, Women and Crime


This applied dissertation investigated gendered relationships and their potential influence on women’s criminal motivation. Historically, researchers attempted to understand criminal behavior using a male-oriented perspective which has dominated criminological literature. Criminologists have neglected to consider the role of gender as a significant predictor or pathway toward criminal behavior of either males or females. Within the last two decades, female criminality has become a spotlight for recognition and attention separate from male criminality. Traditional research on crime has been limited in understanding the pathways for female criminality and motivations for offending as individual predictors of male crime. Analyzing the role of gender and relationships on the impact of female criminality, this study utilized life-history interviews to compare to previous research findings regarding the relationship between males and females and the effect of these gendered relationships on female crime. Findings revealed negative maternal relationships and the lack of attachment between mothers and daughters played an essential role in the criminal propensity of female youth. Although romantic and familial relationships with men had an impact on women’s criminal motivation, especially during adolescence, this study’s findings concluded that the negative bonds with mother figures played a more critical role in the development of young women’s pathways to crime.