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Sociology: Women & Crime

SOC 195 Z2 (CRN: 60902)

3 Credit Hours

For crosslists see: WGST 195 Z1

About SOC 195 Z2

The critically acclaimed Netflix series, "Orange Is the New Black" has focused attention on the criminality of women and raised questions about how accurate the series is in portraying the typical female offender in the United States. This course will use episodes from the series to complicate that question and, combined with a rich array of academic readings, will introduce students to the realities of the lives of female offenders both historically and currently. The course will use FBI Uniform Crime Reports data, victimization data, and other official data to explore just who the typical female offender in this country is and how her profile has changed over time. An exploration of these data will reveal the most critical fact about gender and crime, that women are, in general, incredibly law-abiding, and explore current thinking about why they are rarely found either among the membership of the U.S. Congress or among the ranks of mass murderers or serial killers. At the same time, there are crimes in which women are well-represented. What are those crimes? Why are they more likely to be committed by women than other crimes? How do theories about the factors that produce criminal behavior in general predict or fail to predict the pattern of crime by gender that the data reveal. What is the relationship between the patterns of female criminality, poverty and drug use? Finally, what are the realities of criminal justice responses to the criminality of women and what should they be like in the future? Sociologist, Dr. Eleanor Miller, specialist in deviance/criminology and gender and author of the award-winning study of women and crime, Street Woman, will teach this thought-provoking course for the first time at the University of Vermont this summer.


Eleanor Miller ()


Dates: May 19 - June 13, 2014; Title: Women & Crime: Why Orange is not the new black; Cross listed w/WGST 195 Z1; Total cross listed enrollment is 30

More Information

Section Description

This course will examine changes in the criminality of women over time and attempts of social scientists to account for the patterns of women's criminality from classical statements to contemporary, research-based explanations. Statistics on women's involvement in crime over time will be used to test the adequacy of general theories of offending primarily derived from the study of men. Differential patterns of women's offending and societal, legal and criminal justice responses by social class, age, race and ethnicity will be an important focus of the class. The course also will examine the connection between women's victimization and their offending. Finally, the experience of women during the peak years of The War on Drugs and the emergence of the carceral state will be considered as well as their unique and typical experiences when incarcerated and the impact of incarceration on their families, especially their children. This last section of the course will be rooted in relevant episodes of "Orange Is the New Black"

Section Expectation

It is expected that students will complete the reading assignments for each class and come to class ready to discuss those readings.


There will be a midterm and a final in the course, each counting for 50% of the course grade.


Course runs from to



Aiken Center 110 (View Campus Map)


to on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

Important Dates

Note: These dates may change before registration begins.

Last Day to Add
Last Day to Drop
Last Day to Withdraw with 50% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw with 25% Refund
Last Day to Withdraw


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