Gender Ascription and the Stereotyping of Deviants


  • AUTHORS' NOTE: This article is revised version of a paper presented at the Society for the Study of Social Problems Meeting, San Francisco, 1978. Research was supported by NIMH Grant MH 08559. We would like to thank J. Scott Long, as well as Karen Pugliesi and Christine Mattley, Washington State University, Peggy Thoits, Princeton University, and Ingram Olkin, Stanford University, for their helpful comments and suggestions.

  • Dretha M. Phillips received her Ph.D. in sociology from Washington State University and currently is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Roanoke College. Her major research interests include definitions of and reactions to deviant behavior by specific populations, sociological approaches to rape, and medical treatment as a form of social control.

  • Lois B. DeFleur is Professor of Sociology at Washingtan State University and,since fall 1981, has been serving as Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences. Her most recent research focuses on problems of sex integration in traditionally mule occupations, specfically the military. At the same time, she maintains her interest in daviance and social control, and is coauthor of a major introductry sociology text.


This research explores the assumption that evaluations of criminal offenders are related to the ascription of stereotypic gender-linked traits. Three hypotheses derived from the literatures on deviant stereotypes, gender roles, and female crime were tested with data obtained from a statewide survey of the general public of Washington State. The findings indicate that evaluations of offenders in terms of perceived motivations are related to both gender ascription and type of crime committed. Recommended dispositions for and anticipated social accetance of offenders, however, may be adequately described solely by their relationships to type of crime. These findings may be related to the nature of the stereotyping process, the specific types of stimuli–including characteristics of the research setting that trigger it, and the kind of evaluation being made of the criminal deviant.