Reducing Gender Bias in Sexual Assault Response and Investigation – Part 1

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60 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 15, 2020

Mike Crumrine
Sergeant Michael Crumrine
Sergeant, Austin Police Department
Heather Huhtanen
Heather Huhtanen
Gender Equality Consultant/Trainer

Systematic, thorough, and impartial law enforcement investigations must seek to avoid drawing on gender-based stereotypes and attitudes at every step of the process. This is why the US Department of Justice (DOJ) published groundbreaking guidance for law enforcement in 2015, entitled, Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.

In this 2-part webinar series, we will explore the phenomenon of gender bias, both explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious), and the resulting stereotypes and attitudes that can influence the professional response to, and investigation of, sexual assault. Many of the same principles apply to cases of intimate partner violence and other gender-based violence.

In Part 1, we begin by introducing the concept of implicit bias, and then address key questions about how this can influence sexual assault dynamics and responses. For example, we will examine the relationship between gender bias and victim selection at the time of the sexual assault.

In Part 2, we resume this discussion with an exploration of how gender bias affects victim blaming after the sexual assault. We will also evaluate how gender bias plays a critical role in the designation of false reports in cases of sexual assault, and consider the intersection of gender bias and victim recantations. The presentation concludes with recommendations for reducing the effect of gender bias in these cases.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Define the concept of implicit bias, and apply it to specifically explore implicit gender bias.
  • Examine how gender bias can affect criminal justice and community responses to sexual assault, especially law enforcement investigations.
  • Analyze how gender bias can specifically influence victim selection in sexual assault cases.

Up Next

Reducing Gender Bias in Sexual Assault Response and Investigation – Part 2

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This project is supported by Grant No. 2016-TA-AX-K010 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

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