Female suicide bombers have captured much media attention of late, inspiring analysts to think they've been used, or manipulated. The truth, writes political scientist Lindsey O’Rourke in the New York Times, is that they're not that different from their male counterparts. O’Rourke has spent years studying every known female suicide bomber since 1981, and uncovered no proof that motivations differ between the sexes.
Nor should religious extremism be blamed for the increase in female bombers; secular groups inspire female bombers more often than Islamic militants. Politics is the primary motivator—95% of all attacks occurred against an occupying force. To that end, women are strategically useful. They are less likely to attract suspicion and have proven more effective in suicide bombing assassinations.