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Maintaining Separate Spheres in Policing: Women on SWAT Teams

NCJ Number
Women and Criminal Justice Volume: 20 Issue: 3 Dated: July-September 2010 Pages: 218-238
Mary Dodge; Laura Valcore; David A. Klinger
Date Published
July 2010
21 pages
This study used qualitative data to examine the limited participation of women in elite policing teams.
The Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team may represent the last vestige of male dominance in law enforcement as an assignment that remains grounded in traditional masculine notions of policing. Although SWAT units have become a prominent feature of modern American policing, there are few female team members. In an attempt to develop some insight into why women rarely serve on SWAT teams, the present research examines the viewpoints of a sample of 30 male and 31 female police officers on the gendered aspects of SWAT assignment. This exploratory study represents the first qualitative attempt to uncover police officers' perspectives and thoughts on the "fit" of women on SWAT teams. The results show that the majority of officers, whether implicitly or explicitly, and regardless of gender, agree that the presence of women on SWAT teams presents a variety of challenges. Table and references (Published Abstract)