Discrimination Rampant for Women in Law Enforcement Jobs

It ain’t easy being a woman in law enforcement. As the Washington Post explains, that’s the conclusion of two new and separate studies by the Department of Justice and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Not only is discrimination rampant for women in the field of law enforcement, but there is a minimal effort to hire or promote women in most agencies.

DISCRIMINATION HAPPENS AND MEN JUST DON’T GET IT

Women in law enforcement say gender discrimination is pretty standard, with 40 percent of female criminal investigators indicating that they’ve been the victim of discrimination. Others report gendered harassment.

Perhaps even more troubling is that their male peers don’t even perceive it. Just 40 percent of women in law enforcement think their workplace promotes an “equitable culture” compared to 63 percent of men who contend they have it.

In focus groups, a lot of men admitted they have never given any thought to gender inequality in their field. Talk about privilege – they’re oblivious to it because it doesn’t affect them, and haven’t bothered to consider how their female colleagues feel in the environment.

WOMEN ARE MISSING, ESPECIALLY IN SUPERVISORY POSITIONS

Women are woefully absent in leadership positions. Just 16 percent of all criminal investigators are women, and that rate is similarly low for other positions that are in charge of field offices.

Customs and Border Protection may be the worst example – there are no women at the interdiction level, and women comprise just 5 percent of the overall staff. The one law enforcement division where women are thriving is at the Fish and Wildlife Service as park rangers – and even that may be based on some gendered stereotypes.

WHY ARE THE DISCREPENCIES THIS BAD?

Through polls, it seems like a lot of the reason women aren’t hired or promoted is due to sexist assumptions. Men, particularly in leadership positions at law enforcement agencies, indicated that they didn’t think women were physically up to the task, wouldn’t want to carry weapons and wouldn’t want to leave their children for the long hours.

Of course those outlooks color the hiring process. If leaders don’t envision women in these roles, are they really going to give much thought to female candidates?

Additionally, both men and women overwhelmingly indicated that promotions in law enforcement tend to be the result of personal relationships rather than professional accomplishments. If the men are bonding better with fellow men, it makes sense that women would get left out of a boys’ club.

HOW CAN THIS GENDER GAP BE FIXED?

The main answer the EEOC and DOJ keep coming back to is recruitment. The effort just hasn’t been made to conduct outreach to women. Women – perhaps correctly – assume they’re not legitimate contenders for these positions and don’t apply. Law enforcement needs to be clear that it welcomes women in order to further break down barriers, which includes having women do the actual recruitment.

All of the law enforcement divisions under the DOJ’s watch have committed to following the inspector general’s latest recommendations to improve diversity and recruit more women. However, the inspector general said that the success of these steps will come in the sincerity of the implementation – the agencies are going to have to genuinely want the gender discrimination to disappear in order for it to work.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

44 comments

Tania N
Tania N2 days ago

Thanks for the info.

SEND
Tania N
Tania N2 days ago

Thanks for the info.

SEND
Tania N
Tania N3 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Tania N
Tania N3 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Tania N
Tania N3 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Ann B
Ann B5 days ago

I am all for equal employment but a large vicious man can beat the tar out of a small female police woman--even with the best training

SEND
Tania N
Tania N10 days ago

Thanks for the info.

SEND
Tania N
Tania N10 days ago

Thanks for the info.

SEND
Tania N
Tania N10 days ago

Thanks for the info.

SEND
Kathy G
Kathy G12 days ago

Thank you

SEND