Women in Law Enforcement Paper
Seeing a male cop or detective in today's world is by far one of the most typical sights we see on a daily basis. Even in popular TV shows, the male gender always out-numbers the females in cop/agent roles. Think about it, when coming across a woman in law enforcement or criminal justice, it ever so slightly takes us back. Why is this might we ask? Yes, the year may be 2018, but that does not mean that society has let the thought of a gender-dominated career go. Brave women who work in this field constantly have to push themselves to make a statement and show those around them that they are capable. Discrimination towards women in law enforcement is unethical because they have the ability to handle situations differently, have to leave behind their femininity to be accepted, and face difficult obstacles throughout their journeys.
When it comes to the history aspect of women in law enforcement, it is quite an evolving one. From close to the very start, women have played a role in the policing field. In the 1800s, the first police departments were established, and in 1845, New York City women began to serve as matrons in local jails (policeone). Having women in law enforcement was not a generally accepted idea by society. In fact, when the Great Depression and World War II rolled around, there was massive competition between for men and women for jobs in general. In the end, the majority of people who lost their jobs were women, as most careers were "male-dominated" during those times. However, women still pushed to support their country by working as secretaries or have typical "desk-jobs". Throughout the 1950s, the tables turned in the law enforcement field. Women moved into male-roles and even competed for promotion. "In 1956 the International Association of Women Police was formed, further supporting advancement for female officers" (policeone). Finally in the 1970s, society began to accept women working in law enforcement. "In 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was implemented outlawing gender discrimination in public agencies - including police departments - and further expanding opportunities for women in law enforcement." (policeone). The 1980s were considered innovative as female officers started to break through the "glass ceilings" in police departments (policeone). The trend of breaking through the glass ceiling continued for about a decade, until it was considered normal for women to hold higher positions. Even today, women still face obstacles while pursuing a career in this field, but that doesn't hold them back from chasing their wants and dreams.
In retrospect, gender discrimination has gotten better over the past hundred years, however, women in law enforcement are still put to the test with other officers and civilians (dtpr.lib.athabascau.ca). Women cops face several erroneous challenges such as sexual harassment, gender inequality, false assumptions, and encounter disrespectful men. Upon reading many female cops stories, they all shared the same relative theme, that being, all of these women are underrepresented and treated as if they have no clue how to perform their job correctly. A lot of these female officers also mentioned that after one minute mistake, their reputation has a dent put in it for a ridiculous amount of time. And, unfortunately, bouncing back is not easy in this field of work.
As told by one female officer, throughout her seven years of serving on the police force, she constantly heard snide remarks about her "place in the kitchen", was continuously removed from calls and put on the perimeter since she is a woman, and was always passed over for significant assignments. Rather than allowing these remarks and actions discourage her, she documented what would happen and let it be known that she was aware of it all. This officer also told her readers that she has been contacted by her "Police Officers association in attempt to file suit." but never took any action with them. Towards the end of her entry, she includes,"I just want fair treatment." (officer).
It is highly hapless that, of all people, the majority of female officers experience demoralizing acts such as these, and have to deal with it. It takes a bold woman to dedicate her life to serving as a police officer; and this is the type of redundant treatment she receives? Needless to say, it is rather disheartening to come across a broad amount of stories from woman officers who undergo situations such as these.
It is morally wrong to have female police officers deal with treatment as mentioned above, as they are capable of such a job. With deep findings, women, in fact, can make excellent cops, regardless of their size/physicality - since, apparently, that is why women are steered away from this field of work. However, while reading "Tactical Differences Between Male And Female Officers", an article found on officer, the size of a woman is positively mentioned. According to this article, generally a woman's size "allows for better use of cover and concealment. They are more flexible and allow for more options during movement or cover." (officer). Women's ability to multitask is also mentioned, as they are biologically made to be that way. Especially in policing, women are expected to perform every assignment or investigation with the high quality. Being able to efficiently multitask is more difficult than it seems, but the capability to do so is more than handy as a police officer. When it comes to biological differences in the body, men have a larger brain than women, however, the female brain has "more nerve cells connecting the right and left brain, which allows us the ability to go back and forth and transfer data from the creative side to the computational side of our brains, matching up our verbal side with our visual, creative side a lot faster." (officer). This natural trait allows for women to interpret information quicker, which can be extremely helpful as an officer. Women are able to store a lot of information in their minds as they are meticulous and are biologically wired to pay attention to different things - for a longer period of time. Lastly, a huge difference between men and women in general, is the nurturing side of a female. Not only does this trait apply to just daily lives, but it can significantly help as a cop. Females typically come off as disarming and will listen, think, then arise a solution. The nurturing aspect of a woman comes into play when they are in a situation involving understanding. For instance, if a female police officer receives a domestic violence call, immediately the biological set-up of a female will want to comfort and help rather than perform hard interrogation and intimidate the victim. "Studies also show that female officers use significantly less force, both non-lethal and lethal, than male officers. Why? I suspect it is because women keep situations from escalating through communication while men attempt to control situations by asserting their authority." (nytimes). The female mind is obviously set-up dissimilarly from the males' for sustainability purposes. Many people across the nation believe we need more women as police officers for this reason. However, in the police force, the majority of women are pressured to put their femininity to the side.
It is unrealistic for women to have to, in any setting, leave their womanhood behind them for a career. Female cops deal with changing the way they were brought up on a daily. In order to gain acceptance from their male coworkers, they are expected to act like one of them. One female officer wrote about her experiences in an entry:
We have to be able to get our hands dirty and jump into situations with resistive subjects to show that we aren't a liability. We have to be able to roll with the punches amid dirty jokes, flatulence, and other behaviors typically displayed in a male-dominated field. Being feminine is often seen as a hindrance as opposed to an attribute when garnering respect from male coworkers because they feel like they have to protect us instead of focus on the problem they are called to handle. (policemag).
Going back to what was said earlier, this quote is part of the reason why women feel inclined to change the way they behave. Later in the authors entry, she briefly explains that she felt judged by other officers (who wondered if she could handle a fight or hold herself together during a homicide) and commented on how it took longer for her to be accepted than her other classmates - who were men (policemag). Alas, many women who sacrifice so much to be a cop to the point of giving up their womanly ways, are still treated horribly by their "brothers in blue", as there have been more than a few cases of sexual harassment on the job.
As a female police officer, there are many obstacles that are bound their way. Yes, receiving promotions and upgrading titles may be challenging, however, sexual harassment is another burden female officers may encounter on the job. On the web alone, there are many public stories from women cops who have had to report a coworker of sexual misconduct. The fact that women have to go through so much physically, emotionally, and mentally to become an officer should be considered a huge success; instead, they experience crude remarks, harassment, and underrepresentation.
One female cop, Sgt. Jessica McInnis went through three years of sexual harassment before reporting the acts since it got to be extremely unbearable. The harassment she encountered took place in a group chat between her and 14 other male officers. McInnis explained the texts as "unsolicited, sexist, sexual, harassing and obscene..." (cbc.ca).
Impractically, all the men in the group chat received a penalty of no pay for just eight hours of work, as did Sgt. Jessica McInnis. To a lot of bystanders/people involved in this case, they were baffled. Why penalize the victim? This happening left and continues to leave a lot of questions in people's minds when it comes to gender equality and fair treatment.
Women immediately enter this profession with a disadvantage, being their gender. This is not an assumption but, in fact, a real-life circumstance that occurs on the daily. Discrimination in the workplace is illegal, however, it remains a disturbance across the nation. Females in law enforcement face difficult obstacles that make them work twice as hard, and have to give up their own femininity to be accepted at the least. It is a shame that women undergo situations, such as what was explained earlier, to protect a city. They have the natural mindset to handle intense settings and listen before acting or saying. Society needs more females as police officers so surroundings can be regulated and not as escalated, not so women can be degraded as they help protect an area.