As soon as I had my first encounter with Dr. Danielle Slakoff, I knew that she would be someone I look up to. I have the pleasure of having Dr. Slakoff as my professor for the “Women and the Criminal Justice System” course. She is thoughtful, caring, passionate, and genuine. I can say from personal experience that she will not stop at anything to make her students feel safe and welcomed.
In addition to her friendly demeanor, she has impressive credentials to show for. Dr. Slakoff is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Sacramento State University. She has her Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. She also contributes to research in this field and has multiple publications.
What is a feminist criminologist?
When I asked Dr. Slakoff if she considers herself a feminist criminologist, her answer was an enthusiastic “Yes!” A feminist criminologist is a scholar-activist in pursuit of social justice and change – a definition straight from one of Dr. Slakoff’s lectures. These feminist criminologists focus on the experience of multiple marginalities of women. This deals with how women experience sexism, racism, and classism every day. Additionally, they work to empower and educate women.
This is the reason why I thought an interview with Dr. Slakoff would be a great piece for Women’s Republic and also anybody interested in this field of work.
Q: What research have you done, and what do you specialize in?
A: To this point, most of my research has focused on the way that women are portrayed in the U.S. news media as victims of crime. Specifically, I have examined how race impacts these portrayals. Recently, I published a commentary about the impact of COVID-19 on intimate partner violence. I am also working on research about how women who commit crimes are portrayed in the media, with a specific focus on how photographs, captions, and headlines frame news stories. Further, I am currently examining the portrayal of intimate partner violence in true crime podcasts, and I am examining how the HBO TV series Watchmen portrayed race relations within the U.S.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most valuable piece of information you have learned from your research?
A: I think the most valuable thing I’ve learned from my research is that racial biases exist in our media, whether we are talking about victims of crime or perpetrators of crime. Specifically, Black women are portrayed poorly in the media compared to their White counterparts.
Q: Where do you hope to go from here in your career?
A: My primary goal right now is to earn tenure at my current institution (i.e., to become an Associate Professor). I honestly have not thought too far beyond that!
Q: What has been the biggest factor to your success in your job?
A: I plan my work days out (literally to the half-hour), and I do this the night before in my planner. This helps me to be successful because I don’t spend time thinking about what to do next, and I waste very little time switching between tasks. I also find that planning my day out like this really helps me to see that I am making progress, even on slow-going days. Another big factor, I think, has been my ability to maintain a work-life balance most of the time. I work my butt off during work time, but I also make sure to relax during my downtime. I take a full day off every week. As best I can, I try not to overwork myself—I am not at my best when I am exhausted and burnt out.
Q: How do you define your personal values that have shaped where you are today?
A: Something that was instilled in me from a very young age was the importance of hard work. I definitely think that has impacted my life and career. Another thing that was instilled in me from a young age was to ‘trust my gut.” I definitely have been in situations in my life where I wish I had listened to my gut sooner.
Q: Is there anything else you want to share?
A: I think some of the best life advice I ever received was “speak to yourselflikes you’d speak to your best friend.” I also believe trusting your gut (your gut instincts) is really important advice, especially for women who are often trained to be polite above all else. Finally, drink more water!
To conclude, I want to especially thank Dr. Slakoff for taking the time to answer these questions and for sharing her story. She is an excellent example for anyone considering this line of work. Her passion, kindness, and determination make all the difference for her students and the women that she will continue helping with her research and knowledge.