Women in law enforcement
||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (October 2013)|
|Women in society|
Women in law enforcement agencies have typically been outnumbered by men in law enforcement agencies. The first female police officer in the USA appeared in 1910. Since that time law enforcement agencies have sought to reduce descrimination and increase the numbers of women working in this sector.
The first female police officer in the United States was Alice Stebbins Wells who was initiated into the Los Angeles Police Department in 1910. Since then, women have made progress in the world of law enforcement. The percentage of women has gone up from 7.6% in 1987, to 12% in 2007 across the United States. Despite these strides, women are underrepresented in law enforcement within the United States. Women only represent 12% of all law enforcement agencies, of which there are over 14,000. Also, throughout all of these agencies there are only 219 women who are ranked a chief. Very few women are ranked as sergeant or above. So not only are women underreported in law enforcement they are faced with a glass ceiling and are unable to move up in ranks within their departments. It has long been know that agencies used to discriminate against the women by not hiring them simply because of their gender. Only in the last twenty years have departments been made to not hire a candidate based on gender. For around seventy years departments were allowed to discriminate against women wanting to go into law enforcement because they were women. When women were allowed to get jobs within law enforcement, they were often given administrative or traffic jobs rather than actually going out on the street. Today that has changed; there are more women who are getting jobs within the tactical departments, such as S.W.A.T.
Local law enforcement agencies are not the only agencies to have a lower representation of women on their staff. Federal agencies are also underrepresented when it comes to women. Here are the statistics for women in federal agencies as of 2008:
- Office of Inspector General- 25%
- Federal Bureau of Investigation- 19%
- Administrative vs. Courts- 46%
- United States Postal Inspection Service- 22%
- United States Forest Service- 15.9% 
Women are even less represented in local departments. Here are the statistics for these departments as of 2008:
- Medium sized departments- 9%
- Small sized departments 10%
- Large Local Departments- 15%
- Small local police departments- 6%
- Small local sheriffs departments- 4% 
Not only are there a smaller number of women in law enforcement, but departments have not adjusted their physical requirements to meet the needs of female cadets and recruits. Between 2005 and 2011 the female physical ability test pass rates were 80% lower than their male counterparts. Despite women being in law enforcement for over one hundred years; departments have yet to make the necessary adjustments to the physical ability test to meet the needs of the female recruits and cadets.
Police Departments do not only have fewer police officers in them, they also hire fewer female police officers compared to male officers. Women are often screened out of the hiring process early on because departments are looking for candidates with high upper body strength and previous military experience.  The physical ability test is not fit to match the physical standards of women. Men have higher muscle mass than women, so they are able to perform better on physical activities than females. Between 2005-2007 the female pass rate of the physical ability test was 80% lower than their male counterparts.
Despite women being in law enforcement for over one hundred years, they are still faced with ample amounts of discrimination and harassment. Female police officers often face discrimination when it comes to their fellow officers and many women face the “brass- ceiling” meaning they are not able to move up in rank and can only go so far, as far as the imposing ceiling will allow.  Women are taught to overlook and minimize the discrimination they face. 
Discrimination and problems towards women in law enforcement are not just happening in the station house. Many female police officers that are married to other officers face a higher risk of domestic violence. Currently 27,000-36,000 female police officers may be a victim of domestic violence. Domestic Violence goes up to nearly 40%, from a normal societal level of 30%, in households of officers.
While women are not as likely to be physically assaulted while on the job, they do face more sexual harassment, most of which comes from fellow officers. In 2009 77% of policewomen from thirty-five different counties have reported sexual harassment for their colleagues. Women are asked to “go behind the station house” or are told other inappropriate things while on the job. Not only that, but there is often physical sexual harassment that takes place in the station house. So it is not only verbal, but also physical sexual harassment that women police officers face on a daily basis.
Not only do women face the sexual harassment while in the work place, they are also expected to act like men. Female police officers are expected to act like their male police officers colleagues. Women are expected to curse, be manly, be tough, drink, and so much more. While at the same time they are also expected to act like women so they do not outshine their male colleagues. 
While female police officers do face these discriminations, there are a few occasions in which they are not discriminated against, and where they are actually favored for the job. Female police officers have what is called a greater mobility. Meaning that they can be moved from job to job and are given different assignments. This is basically saying that they do not always stay in the same position throughout their career and they have the ability to move around within the department. As of 1973, 45% of women officers and 71% of male officers remained in their regular uniforms, 31% of women officers and 12% of male officers were given inside assignments, and 12% of female officers and 4% of male officers had other street assignments. So while female officers are less likely to be promoted within the department (going from officer to sergeant, sergeant to lieutenant, etc.) they are more likely to be given different assignments and are less likely to keep the same beat (patrol position).
Moves to tackle discrimination
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (November 2013)|
Departments are making things more equal amongst female and male officers, there are still some discriminatory actions being taken place against female officers. One of these discriminatory actions is not giving female officers properly fitting uniforms. The current police uniforms are fit for the male physic, and do not comfortable fit the female body. One of the most problematic items is the bulletproof vest, which is made for the physic of a man; Because of this, when women wear their vest they are often confined because of their breast, which makes patrol very uncomfortable. Since these women are confined into the bulletproof vests customized for men, women are uncomfortable while on patrol, which can hinder their ability to do the job. If a female police officer constantly has to fix her vest or is limited in her mobility because of the vest, this is going to have some serious implications on her ability to perform her job. This does not only affect their job, but it also affects how society and the other officers perceive them. If a female police officer constantly have to fix their uniforms or are limited to their mobility because of their uniforms, the women are then perceived as weak. This can be a huge disadvantage to any female police officer out on patrol.
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- Breaking and Entering Policewomen on Patrol. Martin. University of California Press. London. 1980.