Eliana “Ellie” Rudee ’14

Ellie Rudee

Project: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Women’s Agency in Terrorism
Major: Politics and international studies
Grant: Johnson Summer Research Grant
Faculty: Ilai Salzman (Claremont McKenna College)

Ellie Rudee wasn’t satisfied with limiting her summer research to just one discipline. As one of a select few recipients of the Johnson Summer Research Grant, she instead analyzed the differences between male and female motivations for terrorism and what may account for any differences. In her research project, An Interdisciplinary Approach to Women’s Agency in Terrorism, Rudee examined conventional thought on the topic through multiple lenses, including psychology, media studies, and international relations.

“I noticed most traditional literature suggests female terrorists have personal motives and men have more political motives, but I believe this theory to be based on the stereotype of women existing outside of the body politic,” says Rudee. “A lot of the literature to date on this topic offered stereotypical or simplistic analyses likes this, so my research sought to overcome these shortcomings by using more of an interdisciplinary approach.”

Rudee discovered male and female motivations for terrorism generally were the same, but women were additionally driven by cultural influences on gender norms and women’s agency. She also found stereotypes portraying women as docile and politically uninvolved greatly influence counter-terrorism strategy and have encouraged terrorist groups to recruit women, knowing they are seen as less dangerous than men. Conversely, Rudee noticed that, on average, women are more successful terrorists than men, largely because of these pervasive stereotypes.

“Despite the serious topic, I had a lot of fun doing this research,” says Rudee. “I felt incredibly lucky and thankful I had the opportunity to work on this topic. Scripps provides students so many amazing opportunities, and I am very fortunate to be able to take advantage of them.”