Sentencing Disparities Between Men and Women


In the justice system, there have been a lot of disparities in how justice is served to men and women offenders. Although justice is supposed to be served equally, women tend to receive less conviction than men. This also explains why there are numbers in prisons in some countries that are different in either men’s or women’s prisons. Studies have been done to try and bring out the disparities in sentencing men and women in the justice system. Individuals who often influence gender disparities in the justice system are judges, prosecutors, or lawyers. This paper highlights how women are treated differently than men in sentencing in the justice system.

Sentencing of Women vs. Men in the Justice System

Women are seen to be most favored than men since they are considered harmless even if they have committed the same crime as men. Some societies have a particular idea of how women should behave, which significantly influences how they are sentenced. This is referred to as chivalry theory which is different for certain females depending on the race or ethnicity of the offender (Holland and Prohaska, 2021). A study conducted on gender disparities aimed to determine how women were likely to receive shorter sentences than male offenders, proving women offenders received lighter sentences (Alexander Ornella, 2020). The law enforcers investigate further the crimes women or girls have committed and try to find the circumstances that led them to execute the crime in question. This is because women are seen by law as people who are less likely to commit the offense compared to men.

Women are oppressed in society and face many problems like domestic violence or pay gaps compared to men. Therefore, these things contribute to how judges or law enforcers treat women differently. Females are often seen as caretakers of their families; therefore, if she is pregnant or the breadwinner, the judge will avoid sentencing the offender to prevent the effect that comes afterward to her children. The court will try to sympathize with the female offender, and their sentence will be less severe. Their punishment might be community correction or community service, which is minor compared to the male sentence. However, the verdict is different from the female who does not have kids.

The criminal history of females is less than male offenders; therefore, this may influence the decision made by the court when sentencing. With this in mind, they tend to consider that the sentence would be lenient if this is the first offense committed. But if then the woman has committed a crime twice, then the extent to which the justice system will punish her is compared if she was a first-time offender. This brings about the deviance theory, which is based on punishing females who do the wrong thing twice. A study was conducted to prove that when women are viewed as doubly deviant, they receive over punishment while others receive a lesser sentence or verdict. Societies that expect women to comply with certain norms give them a more brutal punishment than men, even though the crime committed is the same.


In conclusion, there are disparities in how the justice system sentences men and women. Justice is supposed to be served equally, but there is a significant difference in how it is done across genders. Women are sometimes treated leniently and harshly depending on the society and many factors. These gender roles often affect how decisions are made for female offenders; the law enforcers should therefore keep an open mind to make fair decisions.


Alexander Ornella. (2020). Gender Differences and Sentencing: A Critical Literature Review. Criminal and Sociology Hull- Student research journal. Web.

Holland, M. M., & Prohaska, A. (2021). Gender effects across place: A multilevel investigation of gender, race/ethnicity, and region in sentencing. Race and Justice, 11(1), 91-112.

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"Sentencing Disparities Between Men and Women." LawBirdie, 9 Apr. 2023,


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Sentencing Disparities Between Men and Women'. 9 April.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Sentencing Disparities Between Men and Women." April 9, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Sentencing Disparities Between Men and Women." April 9, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Sentencing Disparities Between Men and Women." April 9, 2023.