A Gender Approach to Women's Role in the Online Extremist Sphere
Across the ideological spectrum, there are misconceptions and oversimplifications when it comes to discussing the role of women in terrorist organisations. From the perception that women are groomed into joining violent extremist groups and can therefore be presumed innocent, to the notion that a woman’s role in a terrorist organisation is secondary simply because she is less likely to be the one picking up a weapon to carry out an attack. In this episode, we debunk many of these myths and explain why this issue has far more depth to it than the media conveys. We explore the misleading ‘jihadi bride’ stories perpetuated by the media, we examine women’s roles in online propaganda and recruitment, and we discuss the nuances to the “push and pull” factors of why women join terrorist groups - including far right groups. Drawing upon all of this, we provide recommendations on how the tech sector should counter women's role in online extremism and terrorism.
Maygane Janin and Anne Craanen discuss the complexities at the intersection of gender and terrorism. They are joined by two of the foremost voices in this space: Dr. Joana Cook, an Assistant Professor on Terrorism and Political Violence at Leiden University, Senior Project Manager and an Editor in Chief at the International Centre for Counterterrorism who recently published a book on gender and counterterrorism titled “A Woman’s Place: U.S. counterterrorism since 9/11”; and Dr. Elisabeth Pearson, a lecturer at the Cyber Threats Research Centre at Swansea University who specialises in gender, extremism, and counter extremism. Together, they consider the broader socio-cultural context of how gender is viewed in extremist ideology participation - especially with regards to how understanding of gender identity, individuals’ experiences, age, and social class also impact the reasons someone might join an extremist group.