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Femme Fatale: Exploring the Use of Women in Terrorist Organizations

Why do terrorist organizations use female operatives in violent roles? Why do they use women in non-violent roles? What explains variation in the amount and type of participation by women in these organizations?

I propose first, that there exists a gendered division of labor within terrorist organizations in which men more often undertake violent roles and women more often undertake nonviolent, supportive roles. Secondly, I propose that organizations will innovate by incorporating women in violent roles when the tactical and strategic benefits of using women outweighs the costs of societal censure for using women in normatively unacceptable ways. I also further theorize a spectrum of participation available to women within terrorist organizations which ranges from public opinion support or non-violent demonstrations to violent attacks up to and including suicide attacks.

I utilize a mixed-methods research design by evaluating my claims firstly, through statistical analysis based on an original dataset of women's participation in terrorist organizations and secondly, through a structured focused case comparison of two loyalist paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland. 

Works in Progress

“From ABCs to IEDs: Why Terrorist Organizations Use Child Suicide Bombers”

“Theorizing Direct and Indirect Terrorist Tactics Appeals in ISIS’s Rumiyah” co-authored with Corri Zoli

“A Bureaucratically Composite ISIS: Five Exemplars of Organizational Theory in Terrorism Studies,” co-authored with Corri Zoli

Research Assistant Positions

September 2017 - May 2019

RA for Professor Corri Zoli, Director of Research/Assistant Research Professor, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT), College of Law and Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs

October 2018 - December 2018

RA for Professor Lamis Abdelaaty, Assistant Professor, Political Science, World Refugee Dataset, October 2018-December 2018

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