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Women with Badges

Women with Badges

Susan Aaron, Monster Learning Coach

The percentage of women in law enforcement is hovering under 15 percent, according to the National Center for Women & Policing, and it’s not increasing. Here’s straight talk from current and former female police officers as to why we’d all be better off if that percentage rose, what’s been holding the numbers down and which women are needed to fill the gap.

Why More Female Officers Benefit Everyone

Research and history have disproved the notion that women aren’t suited for law enforcement. National Center for Women & Policing data shows female police officers traditionally employ a style of conflict resolution that puts communication before physical confrontation — a notable finding as law enforcement agencies come under fire for excessive force.

Female officers also reduce the risk of accusations of impropriety by their male coworkers when they search female suspects and prisoners, according to a study by the National Center for Women & Policing.

In a similar vein, female officers are particularly effective in situations involving other women. Susan Cormier, a veteran patrolwoman for the Pawtucket Police Department in Rhode Island, is regularly called outside her district on cases of sexual assault or child molestation, "because people open up more to the sensitivity of a female officer," she says.

The Perception Problem

Although women in law enforcement must meet the same physical, academic and psychological standards as men, stereotyped expectations of behavior still exist. "No matter how often a woman proves herself in the job, she’s got to do it over and over again," says Diane Skoog, executive director of the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE) and former chief of police for the Carver Police Department in Massachusetts. "Once a guy does it, he’s set."

Although Cormier has never experienced discrimination within her department, people have asked her if she’s scared or assumed she’s inexperienced. The best reassurance is to look professional and act with authority, she says.

Where Are the Women?

According to The Police Chief Magazine, part of the problem law enforcement has in attracting women may have to do with simple marketing strategy. There’s evidence targeted recruitment efforts, such as specific Web pages and female officers at job fairs, goes a long way toward increasing the number of women officers.

Early education may also help. Cormier participated in a cadet program in her teens, and even though the program was affiliated with the Boy Scouts, she remembers an even mix of boys and girls. Now Cormier speaks at schools, camps and youth guidance programs.

Skoog says that women often leave law enforcement or stay in comfortable positions to satisfy family responsibilities. The 2000 US Department of Justice Bulletin Recruiting and Retaining Women: A Self-Assessment Guide for Law Enforcement advises setting a comprehensive policy for pregnancy and childcare to retain female officers that should cover such subjects as eligibility for and duration of pregnancy and childcare leave, light duty and disability insurance benefits.

Do You Fit the Profile?

Skoog’s perfect candidate for law enforcement has "a unique personality. You’re given a lot of power over others’ lives." She recommends someone well-rounded and educated, with an "even" personality and an ego in check.

The rewards of law enforcement should resonate with you. Cormier thrives on the diversity of challenges that have been set before her, including SWAT, bike patrol and training new officers. She enjoys being engaged in her community and the chance to help others.

"There are so many agencies that are looking for women," says Skoog. Along with the benefits women bring to law enforcement, parity clauses in town charters, grant restrictions that demand a certain percentage of women in an agency to qualify and a basic need for more applicants of either gender have opened this profession. "This is the field for women today," Skoog says.

If law enforcement sounds right for you, here’s how to explore your career options:

  • Consider your interests within the broad range of law enforcement opportunities. Departments to think about include police, sheriff, corrections, federal, university, parks and wildlife. Concentrations within these include homeland security, drug enforcement, K9, detective, community policing and probation.
  • Investigate opportunities to observe an officer at work, such as a ride-along program.
  • Learn what will be expected of you physically, emotionally and mentally.
  • See if there are support programs to help you through exams and training.
  • Find local and national networking opportunities. Cormier regularly meets with women from all fields of law enforcement. NAWLEE matches women at all levels of law enforcement with a mentor to guide them professionally.

More Resources



This article was originally published on monster.com.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    cybrog

    almost 4 years ago

    10 Comments

    that sad when u see one of ur own go down in the line of duty

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    almost 4 years ago

    I will be a female officer in the future. :)

  • Police_link_badge_max50

    HEYSARGE

    almost 4 years ago

    16708 Comments

    HONK HONK!

  • Img_2238_max50

    Lighthouse23

    about 4 years ago

    174 Comments

    Nice article, I have a daughter who is planning on becoming an officer after she gets her BA degree and is 21 years old. The department that I volunteer with has the Police Explorer program like what was mentioned in the article. It is a good program to get youth interested in law enforcement even if they choose not to persue it, they have a basis of understanding should anything come their way. The hard part is finding the youth that are intersested.

  • Profile_max50

    keepyourpower

    about 4 years ago

    70 Comments

    I was one of the first female police officers in the DEEP SOUTH in the 70's and 80's. I took all the sexual harassment, innuendos, physical abuse, mental abuse. I was a damn good cop! Graduated 3rd in my class of 50 at the state academy! I was also told I was too thorough with my paperwork...What? Hey..when I went to court...I did not worry about the facts! They were there in writing! They told me my vocabulary was too large! What?

    I paved the way for this younger generation of female police officers. And yes, I had to be twice as good as the men.

    I loved being a police officer..but could not stand my male counterparts. But again...they were the Good ole boys from the South..and the department was very corrupt!

    I hear some female police officers say it is easier now..others say they still have all the same crud that I had when I was a female police officer.

    Have you males changed your minds and realize we can do almost every thing you can do..I admit I was not as strong as some of my fellow officers. But I made up for it with negotiation skills. The men could not understand why I only pulled my gun on 2 occasions in, 10 years, and why I never shot anyone, in 10 years.
    Psychology Works! I was 5' 10" and 138 pounds of muscle. 26 years old when I started..and it took me years to get hired.

    To Nancym..try another state...I am sure they could use you in SC!

  • Copy_of_marine_photo_edited_edited_max50

    MarineMPSpecReac

    about 4 years ago

    230 Comments

    You know here is a thought. There obviously is a segment of women who want to be police officers, but why does everyone try and make women pursue something they don't necessarily aspire too. I know that women want the freedom to pursue whatever they want, but I think that today's culture is trying make women fit into life areas that may or may not be in their nature.

    Also why is it when trying to give women thumbs up, someone compares them to the kind of men who are poor excuses? I just noticed that in one of the previous posts. It always goes something like this, "I have worked with women, whom I would rather have than pitiful excuses for men." It almost sounds like people are trying to make women the better male replacement if you read between the lines.

    So if a woman wants to be a police officer than go do it, but don't do it and then get on only to compare yourself to men. If you aren't woman enough to do the job without how you stack up to a man, you aren't worthy to do the job. I can tell you nothing irritates a man more than how much of a bad ass a woman is and can beat the crap out of half the men on the force, that dos get you respect even if everyone seems to like you for that kind of attitude or demeanor, false toughness is a huge put off for any cop. You are a woman, measure yourself as one and don't let people try and make you lose that by trying to make you own up to your potential based on a man's potential. People are always saying men and women are the same, no we are not the same, we are very different as the article pointed out, different and both should be celebrated without compromise!

    Right on?!

  • Copy_of_marine_photo_edited_edited_max50

    MarineMPSpecReac

    about 4 years ago

    230 Comments

    You know here is a thought. There obviously is a segment of women who want to be police officers, but why does everyone try and make women pursue something they don't necessarily aspire too. I know that women want the freedom to pursue whatever they want, but I think that today's culture is trying make women fit into life areas that may or may not be in their nature.

    Also why is it when trying to give women thumbs up, someone compares them to the kind of men who are poor excuses? I just noticed that in one of the previous posts. It always goes something like this, "I have worked with women, whom I would rather have than pitiful excuses for men." It almost sounds like people are trying to make women the better male replacement if you read between the lines.

    So if a woman wants to be a police officer than go do it, but don't do it and then get on only to compare yourself to men. If you aren't woman enough to do the job without how you stack up to a man, you aren't worthy to do the job. I can tell you nothing irritates a man more than how much of a bad ass a woman is and can beat the crap out of half the men on the force, that dos get you respect even if everyone seems to like you for that kind of attitude or demeanor, false toughness is a huge put off for any cop. You are a woman, measure yourself as one and don't let people try and make you lose that by trying to make you own up to your potential based on a man's potential. People are always saying men and women are the same, no we are not the same, we are very different as the article pointed out, different and both should be celebrated without compromise!

    Right on?!

  • M_47410fdb0048b0ac6cdb0d27962cc918_max50

    Nancym

    about 4 years ago

    332 Comments

    Well I have been trying to enter the field since 2005...I was doing well in 2008 until the freeze was placed through out South FL. I moved to Central FL...and now i am putting my self through the academy I have 48 more days to graduation ..Now I am afraid I still wont get hire because of this freeze....I have a degree,military,bilingual,female,Hispanic and all of those still don't qualify me...I have pass every test that has been thrown at me including the polygraph so in my case I am trying but with no success so what is wrong with me then....

  • 129_max50

    Amy9592

    over 4 years ago

    4 Comments

    Great article and oh so true in the department I am in....our Chief said "we have our quota of women and I am the only "FEMALE SUPERVISOR" too bad I didn't hear him say that comment.....great for any woman that wants to be in this field....GOOD LUCK!!!!! anyone can do it if you put your heart into it and as a woman give it your 150%

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Bowhunter

    over 4 years ago

    172 Comments

    I feel if a women wants to be a Police officer then let her, I have been in Police work now for over 30 year's and they should. They can do things just like the male's can. Good for them.

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    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    I think women with police badges are hot.

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    95Zcar

    over 4 years ago

    3992 Comments

    It's like I told my wife when she was applying... Use your womeness to get hired by filling a quota or helping a Chief who was worried about being PC. Once you are in the door then show them that you are an awesome, educated, trained, well prepared and when need be "KickA$$" copper! I love working with my Sisters in polyester!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    I totally agree with another poster who said part of it depends on where you're at. When there are agencies around you that have had BIG issues with the treatment of female officers it does not encourage other women to apply. However, I also just think it comes down to how badly you want something. I've been busting my butt to make it happen and won't stop 'til I do. Not everyone has that kind of determination.

  • Koda_thanksgiving_max50

    Koda0317

    over 4 years ago

    354 Comments

    my partner is a female officer, we have been working together for about 5 years now. And there is no other person that I would want to have my back. Great Article

  • Manda_max50

    MandaRoo194

    over 4 years ago

    116 Comments

    Its slow coming and I wish there were more female officers. I am one of the youngest in my dept at JUST 22. and my appearance I have to prove a lot, most think Im to small or to young but women that want it can make it. I did it and its a learning experience everyday

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