The Division on Women and Crime developed out of the growing interest in the study of gender and women as offenders, victims, and professional employees of the criminal systems.
In the early years of the ASC, individual papers on gender, women and crime were presented from time to time at the annual meetings. But the first panel session devoted solely to the subject was not formed until 1975. In that year, Freda Adler’s Sisters in Crime and Rita Simon’s Women in Crime had just been published and there was a burst of new interest in the subject. Some 150 persons came to hear papers at that first panel chaired by Freda Adler.
Despite this encouraging beginning, few criminologists seemed to believe that the study of women and crime was central to criminology. Some even questioned how much researchable material there was on the topic. Those who were interested in these issues and who saw gender as a major, though largely ignored, factor in the study of crime began to band together. First gathering on an informal basis, then as a special caucus, and finally as a prospective division within the ASC, members met and worked to ensure a place at all subsequent ASC meetings for papers on gender, women and crime.
By 1981 there were 48 such papers in the program; by 1983 the number of papers on women and crime had almost doubled to 92. The Division on Women and Crime was given divisional status at the ASC Executive Board meeting in November of 1981. The constitution and by-laws of the division were finished and accepted by the ASC by 1983.
The Division on Women and Crime was the second division ever created within the ASC, after the Division on International Criminology. Formal DWC elections were held in 1982 and Dr. P.J. Baunach became the new Division’s first elected Chairperson.
Since that time, other divisions on Corrections & Sentencing, Critical Criminology, Developmental and Life-Course Criminology, Experimental Criminology, People of Color and Crime, and Victimology have also been developed. However, the Division on Women and Crime remains one of the largest and most active division in ASC. Dozens of panel sessions on gender, women and crime are now routinely interspersed throughout the ASC Annual Meeting Program. In the 1990s the Division worked to support the election of the ASC’s first women Presidents, and to sponsor policy proposals on decarceration of imprisoned women.
A Timeline of Significant Events in the History of the Division on Women and Crime