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  March 2001

Youth Gang SeriesFemale Gangs: A Focus on Research

Joan Moore and John Hagedorn


Early Reports: A History of Stereotypes

Number of Female Gang Members

Being in a Gang: The Background

Delinquency and Criminality of Female Gang Members

Ethnicity and Gender Roles in the Gang

Long-Term Consequences

Taking Female Gangs Seriously: Areas for Future Research




This Bulletin was prepared under grant number 95JDMUKOO1 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.

Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of OJJDP or the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime.

A Message From OJJDP

For many years, female gangs were regarded simply as satellites of male gangs and rigorous research to better understand them was rarely undertaken. This oversight has resulted in gaps in our knowledge about the girls and young women who are at risk for gang involvement and juvenile delinquency.

Part of OJJDPs Youth Gang Series, this Bulletin represents a step toward rectifying the deficiencies of prior research. It summarizes past and present research and tracks the rise in the number of female gangs and the increased public recognition of female gang involvement as a significant social problem.

The authors consider the motivations for female gang membership, assess the delinquency and criminal activity of female gang members, examine the influence of ethnicity and gender norms on female gang behavior, and discuss the long-term consequences of gang membership. Recommendations for future research are also offered.

Girls and young women who are at risk for gang involvement deserve our attention and assistance. This Bulletin provides a historical and research context that will enable us to better understand this serious societal problem and to determine its solutions.



Joan Moore is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. John Hagedorn is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois—Chicago.

Photographs in this document copyright ® 199799 Photodisc, Inc.

NCJ 186159

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