Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Amie Nielsen

Second Committee Member

Olena Antonaccio

Third Committee Member

Roger Dunham

Fourth Committee Member

Andrew Hochstetler


One of the predominant issues in the criminological study of gender and crime is the gender gap in crime. Women are much less involved in crime than men and are involved with different types of crimes. By integrating gender-specific theory with General Strain Theory (GST), this dissertation provides an explanation of female crime and the gender gap in crime. Gendered General Strain Theory (gendered-GST) argues that gender differences in negative life events (strains) and differences in negative emotions lead to distinct pathways to criminal offending. This dissertation empirically examines the different propositions of gendered-GST and whether they adequately explain female crime and the gender gap in offending. Data for this study come from the first three waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a nationally representative survey of adolescent health and risk behaviors. This dissertation uses a sample of 3,009 respondents from the public-use version of the Add Health. Based upon multivariate analyses, the results provide support for the generalizability of GST to female and male criminal offending. Experiencing negative life events, such as violent victimization, were related to several forms of female and male offending. Negative emotions, especially anger, were related to offending for both females and males. While the results are supportive of the generalizability of gendered-GST, the results suggest a lack of support for the ability of a gendered version of GST to explain the gender gap in crime. No distinct statistical pathways of strain or negative emotions were indicated in their relationship to crime.


crime; General Strain Theory; gender; women and crime; negative emotions