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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Andrew Papachristos

Second Advisor

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

Third Advisor

Robert Zussman

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Fronc

Subject Categories

Criminology | Gender and Sexuality | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Sociology


Women are underrepresented in crime and criminal economies compared to men. However, research on the gender gap in crime tends to not employ relational methods and theories, even though crime is often relational. In the predominantly male world of Chicago organized crime at the turn of the twentieth century existed a dynamic gender gap. Combining social network analysis and historical research methods to examine the case of organized crime in Chicago, I uncover a group of women who made up a substantial portion of the Chicago organized crime network from 1900 to 1919. Before Prohibition, women of organized crime operated brothels, trafficked other women, paid protection and graft fees, and attended political galas like the majority of their male counterparts. The 1920 US prohibition on the production, transportation, and sale of alcohol was an exogenous shock which centralized and expanded the organized crime network. This organizational restructuring mobilized hundreds of men and excluded women, even as women's criminal activities around Chicago were on the rise. Before Prohibition, women connected to organized crime primarily through the locations of their brothels, but, during Prohibition, relationships to associates of organized crime trumped locations as the means of connection. Relationships to organized crime were much more accessible to men than to women, and consequently gender inequality increased in the network. The empirical foundation of this research is 5,001 pages of archival documents used to create a relational database with information on 3,321 individuals and their 15,861 social relationships. This research introduces a unique measure of inequality in social networks and a relational theory of gender dynamics applicable to future research on organizations, criminal or otherwise.