Gender & sentencing

Emilia and I met long time ago when I was writing my Msc dissertation on the experiences of motherhood in a prison nursery. We have kept in contact ever since and followed each other’s careers in criminology. On 28th Febraury I had the great pleasure of attending Emilia’s Ph.D. viva and celebrating her success with her family, friends and colleagues. 

Whilst Ph.D. viva examination in England is conducted behind closed doors by two examiners, thesis defences in Poland are open to the public. Emilia’s viva started with her presentation explaining the aims and methods of her doctoral research. This was then followed by a ‘live feedback’ from her examiners, prof. Anna Kosowska and prof. Jacek Kurczewski. After Emilia very elegantly and skilfully responded to the examiners’ questions, the audience were able to ask additional questions. 

Emilia’s doctoral thesis explores the meaning of gender in sentencing and is discussed through the lens of symbolic interactionism and feminist literature. The effects of gender on judicial decision making processes have been rarely discussed not only in Poland, but elsewhere too. Emilia argues that while the notion of gender is not significant in the Polish law and legal commentaries, it is recognised as important in criminological debates and research studies. Gender is, or can be, seen as one of the mitigating or aggravating factors, and judges while imposing sentences might act as ‘active creators’ who participate in the reproduction of gender expectations in the court settings. Although the thesis benefits from the content analysis of selected court cases, it is the sophisticated theoretical framework that makes this thesis truly outstanding. My hope is that once published, this thesis should serve as a wonderful source of knowledge and inspiration for many intellectual conversations amongst Polish criminologists.

And all this could have not taken place around better time than today – International Women’s Day.

Congratulations Dr Emilia Rekosz-Cebula!


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