Analyzing the Gender Gap in Fear of Crime

Karen A. Snedker, New York University

In the fear of crime literature there is a consensus that female gender is the strongest predictor of fear of crime and that, despite their lower objective risk of victimization, women consistently report higher levels of fear. Consequently, scholars have focused on explaining the gender gap in fear of crime and its negative consequences for women. Some researchers argue that women are disproportionately affected by fear of crime which ultimately restricts women's freedom to participate in various aspects of social life (Madriz 1997). In doing so the role that fear of crime does (or does not) play in mens lives is largely ignored. In this paper, I apply a risk assement model (Ferraro 1995) to fear of crime and explore how gender influences assessments of risk and employment of risk reduction tactics for both men and women. Relying on both qualitative and qualitative data this paper attempts to unravel the role of gender on fear of crime and perceived risk of victimization. The quantitative data is provided by the most recent survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Fear of Crime and Community Policing Survey which surveys residents in twelve U.S. cities. The qualitative data includes interviews of approximately sixty New York City residents from two diverse neighborhoods. Combining approaches will provide a fuller understanding of the effects of gender on fear of crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006