Girls and Gangs

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Girls and Gangs

For much of history, gang members who are female have generally been left out of the equation. When both the layman and the researcher looked at gang life, gang members, and how they function, rarely have women and their role in gang culture been considered. However, women have long played important roles in gang life, culture, and membership, and the importance of such cannot be ignored. When women in gangs are studied, patterns emerge, the paths that often lead to gang life are able to be greater understood, and this understanding may lead to better practices in gang prevention and intervention.

Women and girls have not been well-studied in relation to gang life until recently. According to Holsinger (2000),
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In the realm of power and control, how much power and agency female gang members have may vary greatly from gang to gang. In African-American gangs, women tend to have more power. In Latina gangs, women typically hold less power and often subservient, especially in El Salvadorean gangs. Common functions of women can range anywhere from defending territory and committing violent acts to engaging in drug dealing, though often in lower-level positions than their male counterparts. It is not uncommon for female members to eventually break into business for themselves, as drug dealing is a very lucrative source of income that also has the potential to bring clout (Lauterback, Hansen, and Waldorf, 1992).
Leaving the gang life is easier for women than it is for men. While men face incarceration, higher recidivism rates, and long-term gang affiliation, women often get out of the life earlier and easier. Many female former gang members report their affiliation as merely a phase they went through and do not see it as their long-term identity. One reason leaving gang life is easier for women is motherhood. Once a woman becomes pregnant and brings a baby into the world, that role now takes precedence over her former gang roles. Other members, males included, view motherhood as her primary
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