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Challenges Women Face in Law Enforcement

  • Word Count: 1767
  • Approx Pages: 7

Not too many years ago, it was considered unusual to be a policewoman. Not only did women comprise a very small percentage of total officers, but their relative newness in the job meant that women were concentrated in the lower-ranking positions. However, this reality has changed. As of 2002, 12.7% of police officers in the United States were women, and the research indicates that the percentage of female officers continues to grow. (Lonsway, et al., 2002). Furthermore, a growing number of higher-ranking officers are women, which, in turn, has created more advancement opportunities for entry-level officers. Despite these trends, women in police work still face tremendous challenges. First, while most police departments have made significant improvements in their efforts to recruit and retain women, many of them still engage in sex-based discrimination through their selection of physical agility tests. Second, many of the gains that women made in equality were imposed through court orders and consent degrees, which are beginning to expire. Third, women and men police differently, as demonstrated by the fact that women are far less likely to be involved in excessive force complaints. Finally, the presence of women on a police force makes it more likely that members of that force will respond appropriately to complaints of violence against women. All of these facets mean that women in law enforcement still face challenges, despite the advancements that women have made in the profession.
While women in law enforcement may not face the same types of overt discrimination that they faced in the past, it is incorrect to assume that women no longer face discrimination while pursuing careers in law enforcement. The first type of subtle discrimination that women face is oftentimes the police agility test. Many people assume that, in order to successful in a law-enforcement career; a police officer must be physically fit. However, th...

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