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Are We There Yet?: The Progress of Women in One Large Law Enforcement Agency

NCJ Number
Women & Criminal Justice Volume: 18 Issue: 1/2 Dated: 2006 Pages: 1-48
Kimberly A. Lonsway
Date Published
48 pages
This study evaluated the status of women and their progress within one large law enforcement agency.
Findings suggest that sworn women in this particular law enforcement agency have made considerable progress along a number of important dimensions, yet numerous barriers remain that other agencies can learn from in order to recruit and retain female personnel. Law enforcement agencies do not have as much difficulty recruiting sworn women as retaining them. This is due in large part to proactive recruitment by the agencies to hire women without implementing any corresponding changes to the existing policies, practices, and attitudes within their organizations. The sample of 69 women, 293 minority men, and 301 White men completed a survey which inquired about personal and professional characteristics, work attitudes and behaviors, health and well-being, agency policies and practices, organizational climate, attitudes toward diversity in policing, and included a final open-ended question asking about the major problem facing sworn women within the agency. Many of the categories surveyed indicated that no significant differences were based on gender of the respondents. The following difference were noted: men were more likely than women to consider quitting the agency, to view performance evaluations as thorough and the information provided as helpful, to have been the target of an internal affairs investigation, and to view discipline as being administered consistently; women reported feeling somewhat more secure in their employment than males, somewhat more satisfied with the nature of their work, more satisfied with their pay and assignments, and having somewhat more frequent symptoms of anxiety; women were considerably more likely to recruit female candidates (however men were more likely to recruit other minorities), were more likely to consider quitting during academy training because of doubts in their abilities to perform the job, were significantly more likely to have taken family leave, report problems with the uniforms and equipment, and support community policing. Tables, notes, references