Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Rosemary Barberet

Committee Members

Jana Arsovska

Brian Lawton

Edna Erez

Subject Categories

Criminology and Criminal Justice | Law and Gender


terrorism, gender, homeland security, United States, American, Chivalry Hypothesis


While scholars have been studying the growing trend of female terrorists for several years, their research has not permeated politics or the media to help inform our Homeland Security policies. The findings from this body of research indicate that there is hesitance on behalf of the public (especially politicians and law enforcement) to acknowledge that women can be terrorists due to deeply engrained gender norms and expectations about gender roles. Terrorist groups are exploiting this unwillingness by recruiting more women to perpetrate terrorist acts (Lele, 2014; Bloom, 2011). Against the backdrop of the changes in gender norms and expectations that have occurred in the United States since the second wave of the Feminist Movement (1960’s), this study empirically explores the following question: “Do American security personnel’s gender role expectations affect workplace behavior?” Via a sequential mixed methods data collection approach, this dissertation research establishes the groundwork for understanding gender roles and expectations in the security and law enforcement arenas. This study achieved mixed results: quantitative testing proved insignificant on all three hypotheses proposed, but qualitative interviews offered more clarity for factors such as the role of officer gender and concerns searching and arresting female suspects which may affect the officer/agent mindset and their decision-making process. This understanding paves the way for social science research, but also helps policymakers and training developers to understand who is being perceived as a potential terrorist threat, how to dispel some gender-related myths, and how best to train our strongest line of defense against terrorism.