It's Complicated: Looking Closely at Women in Violent Extremism

Laura Sjoberg, Caron Gentry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article looks at how gendered assumptions about women’s motivation and recruitment into terrorist organizations leads to equally gendered counterterrorism policies. As a consequence of the current gendered misconceptions of women’s involvement, counter-terrorist approaches to stopping women from supporting IS are frequently misguided and out of touch. Therefore, this article will examine where gender-subordinating assumptions continue to manifest, specifically in the recent attention given to women associated with IS. In particular, it focuses on the ways that framing female supporters of IS as manipulated and without agency fails to address those women’s reasons for joining, and handicaps both the ability to respond to those women who have joined and available tools to prevent future choices to join. It does so by surveying both recent research (ours and others’) on women’s political violence and recent media coverage of women in politically violent organization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalGeorgetown Journal of International Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2016


  • gender
  • violent extremism
  • terrorism
  • women
  • security
  • feminist IR

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