Women in Law Enforcement

Topics: Police, Law enforcement agency, Constable Pages: 11 (3536 words) Published: March 17, 2008
Throughout history there has always been an enormous obstacle for women to overcome in the workplace. Occupational Segregation has continuously acted as a force that impedes on the daily lives of female workers across the world. It not only eliminates several chances for women to capitalize on opportunistic events, but has also denied them of the basic civil rights they are entitled to. Jobs ranging from the military, sports, and even the corporate world have long been dominated by an aura of masculine characteristics. Why is our society structured in such an uncivilized way? Some women may not possess the "supposed" masculine attributes that are sought for in numerous industries, but in all honestly just as many men fail to meet those requirements too. However, over the last few decades the feminist society started to recognize this male weakness and has now taken advantage of opportunities they were previously not permitted to. "Women today constitute 47% of the American labor force – very close to half – compared with 30% in 1950" (Hyde, Pg. 252). This quote represents a shifting economic pattern where women are finally achieving personal prosperity. While female workers are now more popular than ever in some industries, their status in law enforcement stands as a controversial issue in the public eye. Does occupational segregation currently exist in police work? The truth is that "the occupation has long been dominated by men and closely associated with the stereotypical inexpressive masculinity of Sergeant Friday" (Dubeck, Pg. 126). Although "today's police organizational attitudes are finally beginning to change, once the last bastion of male domination in the workplace, serious problems still remain" (Felperin, Pg. 1).

The first ever female police officers were hired in New York City in 1845. "Before women were commonly employed as fully sworn police officers, many police forces employed uniformed women with limited powers to search and look after female prisoners and deal with matters specifically affecting women and children. These female officers were often known as police matrons" (Wikipedia). Several of these women actually highly respected the responsibilities given to them because this was at a point in time when women were not supposed to work outside of the home. As time progressed into the 20th century, women were granted the authority to actually become sworn officers and work along with male peers. "In 1968, the Indianapolis Police Department made history by assigning the first two female officers to patrol on an equal basis with their male colleagues. Since that time, women have entered the field of law enforcement in increasing numbers and played a critical role in the development of modern policing" (Lonsway and Moore, Pg. 2). Before 1968, even though several held minor positions within various departments, women were hardly recognized as members of the police community. It was believed that because all men held superior positions the study of women's rights in law enforcement didn't have to take place. "The study of women in criminal justice was virtually ignored until the rise of what was loosely called police feminist writings dating from the 1960's. At this point women were largely invisible in crime and police management" (Matcalfe, Pg .1). The Indianapolis Police Department changed the face of American law enforcement by implementing a foundation for our culture to build upon. The agency broke certain societal norms that other institutes never dared to challenge. Up to this point women had never been granted a large degree of power and authority over men. This is why this event is considered a revolutionary aspect of American history.

The United States has currently encountered a standstill in trying to recruit women to become involved with police work. In 1999, women accounted for 14.3% of the police force population in large agencies. In 2000, this number declined to 13.0% and reached as...
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