MA Research Paper


Master of Arts




Dr. Laura Huey


Over a one-year period from January 2015 to January 2016, a team of researchers collected nearly 100,000 Tweets from female operated Twitter accounts that exhibited pro-Islamic State (IS) affiliations. The following exploratory research paper aims to address two questions: (1) will identifiable patterns of engagement be revealed through a thematic analysis of Tweets posted by pro-IS women?, and (2) do these patterns illuminate the roles pro-IS women occupy online and in real-time social networks? This research paper intends to challenge the gendered assumption that women play strictly supportive roles within the boundaries of the IS, and demonstrate that IS female supporters fulfill multiple roles in online and real-time social networks. This paper will outline the eight roles identified using a thematic content analysis of pro-IS women’s Tweets. The main findings reveal that pro-IS women primarily fulfill supportive roles, but that they also play a variety of non-traditional roles as well, such as recruiters and even terrorists. This knowledge of how women are using Twitter to support the IS, and the roles they play online and in real-time social networks, can be used to develop more effective counterterrorism strategies to deter the radicalization and recruitment of individuals online.

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