The Relationship Between Gender And The Attitude Towards Death Penalty Research Paper


Men and women carry different perspectives about society roles, rules, and moral principles specifically the famous argument about gender inequality. Previous studies about attitudes on death penalty revealed women as less favored than men in terms of capital punishment imposition. On average, there seems to be a big difference between the number of males and females in lined for execution.


The close association between capital punishment and gender study revealed that a greater percentage of those executed were men, although the court sentenced few women under death penalty every now and then (Harries 21-29). Male and female views and differences on crime attitudes and corrections were not the focal issue in establishing attitudes about punishment and crime policies including offender rehabilitation.


Gender gap considerably exists in a variety of areas toward crime views. The voting patterns of women differ from men largely because of their significant differences in attitudes associated with gender in matters of defense and poverty, equality of women, abortion, and death penalty.


The gender orientation of women is centered on being more compassionate of other people’s wellbeing, particularly those who are socially disadvantaged. When extended and viewed on their gender attitude to offenders, this may result on higher votes for rehabilitation and lesser punishment for women offenders.



Women’s gender differences about crime attitudes present their moral decisions in a different foundation, which in particular predicts a similar pattern towards implementation of crime policies (Gilligan 128-132). Women are still sentenced to death at a lower rate than men.





I believe that gender attitudes play a major role in favoring or opposing the imposition of the death penalty. Men have a favorable sense of security compared to women.


This study will explore the concept on whether gender factors relating to men and women differences in personality affect their attitudes toward the implementation and sentencing of death. The independent variable in this hypothesis is gender and the unique values of the male and female gender.


The dependent variable in this hypothesis is the male and female attitude towards the death penalty. The relationship between the two variables is mainly the natural, unique attitude of a man and a woman who has different views and outlook in life.


The natural and unique attitudes are gender specific. The study attempts to answer the following research questions:

  • Do the nature and differences in gender attitudes predict death penalty?
  • Does the value-expressiveness of a male or a female affect the rational and mental assessment of death penalty?



Literature Review

There is a notable influence on law breaking patterns traceable to ethnicity or race and gender. The state’s action on crime often expressed a strong disapproval on sexism and the issue of racism yet, the white men’s economic, political, and social dominance is evident over minority men and women treatment in court and arrest cases.


It is apparent that there is an overrepresentation of blacks in court and arrest cases, while women experienced under representation in court and arrest cases. The court’s discretionary power in sentencing systems is unfavorable to minority defendants and those that belong to the poor social class. There are three notable factors in the nation’s sentencing policies.


The first factor is gender and the race perceived to be illogical opinion implied in sentencing. The second factor is the employment and education followed by the third factor of unconscious practice of prejudice towards the minority group (Daly and Tonry 201-252).


Studies on the gender differences in information perception and attitude mutability based on this crucial information reveals the evolving nature and death penalty dynamics on respondents’ attitudes. Gender is the most significant factor among demographic variables.



The manifestation of gender differences in public behavior, including policy attitudes contains the salient crime issue. There are obviously gender-based differences where males and females view crime.


Attitudes concerning crime punishment flows from the person’s vulnerability. People who feel vulnerable have every potential to favor measures of increased police power or even pass legislations about gun requirements.


The concept of vulnerability refers to the individual’s beliefs and perceptions about the punishment and prevention of crime. It is evident that the fear of an individual to become a victim influenced his attitude about crime that led him to support policies he feels most safe and comfortable.


Women are prone to behavior modification based on their perception of safety as well as violence while men are confident in their capacity to protect. The higher feelings of vulnerability among women produce gender gap and differences in sentencing attitudes where their fear may make them become more punitive (Hurwitz and Smithey 89-115).


Gender proved to be the predictor of crime punishments in many court trials, especially on issues involving sexual harassment, rape, and domestic violence. Demographic information supplement data for jury selection where attitudes on death penalty were indirectly evident by the use of the demographic characteristics.


Lawyers even collect jurors’ personality traits information to predict the jury’s behavior on crime sentencing (Stricker 169). Gender influenced the majority of the Americans’ views about capital punishment.


Men show more likelihood of sentencing men to capital punishment while women do not show any concern to the gender of the person convicted. Human beings show differences in attitudinal responses to any idea or topic ascribed to them.


The state even found a way to solve the dilemma of executing women. The number of women executed represents only a smaller percentage of the number of women sentenced with capital punishment (Kaufman-Osborn 1119-1129).


The execution of Karla Faye Tucker implied gender does not have any significance over jury’s decision to send women to the death row. The act inspired press and public discussion why only a small number of women have the capital punishment sentence in the US.


The sexiest group claimed that females are benefiting from being a woman and men obviously are suffering from being a man. The courts needed to apply the death penalty sentence fairly and only to the most abominable crimes.


The media coverage about sensational violent crimes send feelings of fear and insecurity to the public, which in turn influenced the attitude of the justice policy. Fear of victimization relies on who reviews the story of the crime.


The audience may sometimes experience shared characteristics leaving them exposed and vulnerable to crime. Some studies indicate that media sources could be meaningful if the direct experience of the audience is lesser.


The study on gendered nature of capital punishment system showed that females definitely do not make as many as men’s death-eligible crimes. Researchers hypothesize that the fear and the anxiety of the public over crime relates to the pressure made by the public to find ample solutions to crime (Heberle 1103-1112).


The interpretation of the few number of women placed on death penalty stated that scarcity of the death penalty sentence over women implied women’s immunity. Women immunity comes from being a woman by nature where falling out of it means falling out of protection.


Women were crime victims in growing numbers. Men sentenced convicted men to death for many of these crimes. Although men bravely imposed the death penalty, the jury has a growing number of women members.


Thus, it is appropriate to view and cite the feminist perspective about the death penalty. The feminist perspective may help the society approach the sentencing in a holistic fashion by starting to know which feministic strategy is appropriate to the sentencing analysis and make a more productive discussion of the case.


The core issue of this phenomenon is about the law as the protector of women. The law provides severe criminal penalties to stranger rape and stranger violence as well as marital rape and domestic violence.


However, the law has continued to differ on the sentencing between inside and outside home violence. The traditional ways in which men do things are limited to its differentiated worldview that almost always tried to reinforce women’s subordination.


In its entirety, this encapsulate women to the dichotomy perpetuated by males. Women seek recognition by reinforcing differences as a woman who is in need of a dominating male protection.


The feminist voice and male dominance theory offer unique context to the imposition of crime punishment. The feminist perspective looks beyond the law’s surface to establish the male or female implications as they continually insist on rules that are not perpetuating subordination of women.


The feminist perspective tends to look on overlooked issues and interest whose views were driven by emotional set of variables (Pope 257-282).

Data Analysis

Test of the hypothesis gathered from the California cumulative file from 1956-2006 showed the contingency table. The contingency table inspects the independent variable, which are the male and female values and the dependent variable, which is the attitude on the death penalty.


The contingency table shows the variables of jury’s views on death penalty and the frequency distribution between male and female population. The general survey conducted by the California poll.


They used questionnaire to create data set variables. The questions were based on the quality of life, race relations, political views, and spending priorities of the sample population. The purpose of the survey is to get the data about the demographic and the American attitudes pertaining several issues related to gender attitudes and values as well as their perceptions of the imposition of the death penalty.


The frequency distribution table showed the percentage of the sample population who favors the death penalty and those who want to abolish the death penalty. This statistic is crucial because it presents the extent of the gender differences when imposing the capital punishment.


The percentages do not show any significant amount of difference between the male and the female views. The percentages exhibit the major difference between the male and the female views about the capital punishment.


Furthermore, the chart showed greater difference specifically emphasis on females favoring more the abolition of the death penalty. Obviously, females are likely to favor less death penalty than males.


The data were based around the views of each individual about the capital punishment, which was classified and segregated according to gender.


The first dependent variable states that the attitudes of the male and the female about death penalty is more or less the same and does not vary much. This means that there is not much gender difference of their views about the death penalty.


The views of a male and a female about the imposition of the death penalty are not unique to their biological differences. The choices of the male and the female were based on what is correct and appropriate for the case.





The jury is the mark of justice to those who are innocent and put the blame to whoever is guilty in the justice process. The jury is a decision-making mechanism that places the responsibility of penalty imposition to the people’s hands. The jurors are the people.


The method of selection made by choosing regular citizens to serve as jury often comes as a source of debate among legal practitioners as well as psycholegal researchers. Jury selection is dependent on community surveys for demographic identification, attitudinal correlation, and personality attributes of potential jurors (Goldstein et al 161).


The importance and differences of gender roles can be seen in its ability as a mediator in information processing and in its ability to move feelings or persuade. Gender roles are a recognizable source of juror judgment bias.


In addition, gender biased can be seen in most rape cases and sentencing. Gender has the power to influence decision-making.


Death qualification as associated with jury bias concerns itself with the relationship of their attitude to the death penalty and attitude to crime punishment. This supports the notion that juror’s attitude on death penalty affects its decision in sentencing the verdict (Boros et al 162-167).


The relationship between the dependent variable and the independent variable is evident in this study. Females are more opposed to the capital punishment sentencing than the males.


In the introduction and literature review, many studies stated that women, unlike the men, prefer the rehabilitative form of policies to prevent crime. There could be a tremendous support for the death penalty.


However, women want to impose a more meaningful alternative other than simply imposing the capital punishment. In choosing capital jurors, theoretical issues associated to punitiveness as well as consideration of the views and the attitudes of the laypersons become major determinants.


Making life altering decisions for lawbreakers involves more than just the committed crime. The attitude towards capital punishment covers the reason of imposing the punishment and the severity of the imposed punishment.


The subjective attitude refers to the community’s desire to witness either less severe or severe form of punishment. It is based on public opinion.


The attitude towards crime punishment is defined as the attitude of the jury, lawyers, or interviewer towards the offender. The outcome of the study showed men are more punitive than women.


However, it was not ascertained whether the attitude could be linked to the age of the interviewer. It appears that the analysis based on gender and age is valid for both male and female.


There is not much difference in their attitude towards death penalty and their perception about the effects of victimization. Mark difference can only be seen in terms of the person’s fear in imposing the death punishment.


There is no significant relationship between the male and female attitudes, even with the minute variations. It is more possible to take into account about its development over time, especially that attitude towards crime punishment vary by country and culture. The relationship of the gender to attitude towards crime is largely dependent on its demographic variables.




Boros, Janos et al., 1998. Psychology and criminal justice. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter Gmbh & Co.

Daly, Kathleen and Tonry, Michael, 1997. “Gender, race, and sentencing.” Crime and Justice 22:201-252.

Gilligan, Carol, 1982. Psychological theory and women’s development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Goldstein, A et al., 2003. Handbook of psychology: Forensic psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Inc.

Harries, Keith, 1992. “Gender, execution, and geography in the United States.” Human Geography 74:21-29.

Heberle, Renee, 1999. “Disciplining gender: Or, are women getting away with murder?” Signs, 24(4):1103-1112.

Hurwitz, Jon and Smithey, Shannon, 1998. “Gender differences on crime and punishment.” Political Research Quaterly 51(1):89-115.

Kaufman-Osborn, Timothy V., 1999. “Revving the late liberal state: On capital punishment in an age of gender confusion.” Signs 24(4):1119-1129.

Pope, Amy E., 2002. “A feminist look at the death penalty.” Law and

Contemporary Problems, 257-282.

Stricker, George, 2003. Biological psychology. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

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