Gender-Responsive Strategies: Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders


I invite you to review A Summary of Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders. The authors, Barbara Bloom, Barbara Own, and Stephanie Covington, define gender responsiveness in corrections as: 

creating an environment through site selection, staff selection, program development, content, and material that reflects an understanding of the realities of women’s lives and addresses the issues of the participants. Gender-responsive approaches are multidimensional and are based on theoretical perspectives that acknowledge women’s pathways into the criminal justice system. These approaches address social (e.g., poverty, race, class, and gender inequality) and cultural factors, as well as therapeutic interventions. These interventions address issues such as abuse, violence, family relationships, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders. They provide a strength-based approach to treatment and skill building. The emphasis is on self-efficacy.

The theoretical perspectives related to women include:

  • The Pathway Perspective
  • Relational Theory and Female Development
  • Trauma and Addiction Theories

How does this shape your teaching and classroom leadership? How do you address the differing needs of individuals in the classroom? 

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Kathy Tracey




Gender-Responsive Strategies and Trauma Informed Educational Practices guide all of my professional work within the female correctional facility as the principal of the school.  Today we had an interesting ACT 48 day in which we looked into the "Thinking Errors Characteristic of the Criminal" by Yochelson and Samenow.  The discussion of the characteristics of the criminal was relatable, yet those characteristics came from the male point of view and does not take into consideration the criminal pathway of the female offender.  Having the opportunity to work at a male facility and then  transfer to a female facility has been the best learning tool to date.  The female offender comes with very different needs.  I personally believe that educators must come from a Strength Based perspective in order for the female student to have a clear understanding of their strengths and to use those strengths to overcome their academic areas of weakness.

KOR :)


Hi Karen, 
It's great to have an expert in gender studies and trauma-informed practices join our discussion! I am curious about your thoughts related to a Woman's Way of Knowing. The theory consists fo five epistomologies, starting with the most basic to the more complex forms of thought.

1. Women of silence:These women lack a voice of their own, conduct very little or no internal dialogue, and typically grew up disconnected from the community.

2. Women of received knowledge: These women are completely dependent on others for knowledge (

3. Subjective knowers: believes truth is in personal experience

4. Procedural knowers: They rely on a combination of intuition and external authorities for answers

5. Constructed knowledge: Integrates intuitive knowledge with learned knowledge from others. 

I'm curious about your thoughts related to this philosophy, and more specifically, what it means for the adult education classroom. 

Kathy Tracey





By no means am I an expert, but thank you! I concur that "women need colleges that will set them free to find their own voice", if they feel this is what is needed for them.  I attended an all women's art college for my undergraduate degree for that reason.  I appreciated Nah's statement that one cannot generalize/categorize women's thinking patterns into neat groupings due to the "context in which women" lives have taken them differ for each individual.  It is vital that women be given the opportunity to share their stories/lives with one another.  I think it is important to have educational offerings for the female offender, as I have observed an awakening of one's abilities when they are in a safe environment that allows growth to flourish, even behind bars. KOR :)







Have you ever read Wally Lamb's book, I Couldn't Keep It To Myself? For those who haven't read it, the book is a compilation of biographies from women in New York Correctional Institution. Each women wrote their biography while taking a writing course. The essays are powerful. 

Has anyone used writing in the classroom to help women build self efficacy? How can we use these guiding theories and turn them into instruction in the classroom? I'd love to hear comments from our members.