Summary There is much discussion and conjecture about the pathway into terrorism and the ‘risk factors’ that are associated with such mobilisation. This paper reports an analysis of the largest open source data set on terrorist life histories available.
| Link to article in Law and Human Behaviour |
Abstract The authors examined the backgrounds and social experiences of female terrorists to test conflicting accounts of the etiology of this offending group. Data on 222 female terrorists and 269 male terrorists were examined across 8 variables: age at first involvement, educational achievement, employment status, immigration status, marital status, religious conversion, criminal activity, and activist connections. The majority of female terrorists were found to be single, young (<35 years old), native, employed, educated to at least secondary level, and rarely involved in criminality. Compared with their male counterparts, female terrorists were equivalent in age, immigration profile, and role played in terrorism, but they were more likely to have a higher education attainment, less likely to be employed, and less likely to have prior activist connections. The results clarify the myths and realities of female-perpetrated terrorism and suggest that the risk factors associated with female involvement are distinct from those associated with male involvement.