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Sources of Stress Among Women Police Officers

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Science and Administration Volume: 11 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1983) Pages: 46-53
J G Wexler; D D Logan
Date Published
8 pages
Of 19 sources of stress mentioned by women patrol officers, the most common centered around their being women, most notably hostility and harassment from male coworkers.
The study involved interviews with 25 women police officers conducted over 9 months beginning in November 1980. The subjects were all officers in a large, metropolitan police department in California. Subjects were selected nonrandomly, although an attempt was made to choose persons from subgroups representing race, time in the department, sexual preference, and station. Information solicited in interviews centered on the officer's background, her perceptions of the best and worst aspects of the job, and her typical experiences at work. A group of male and female officers began meeting regularly, with the researchers serving as group leaders. The meetings focused on job stress problems in general and on strains between male and female officers in particular. General areas mentioned as sources of stress were external stressors (negative public attitude, media, and courts/criminal justice system), organizational stressors, task-related stressors, personal stressors, and female-related stressors. Stress arising from the attitudes of male officers toward them was noted by 80 percent of the respondents. Respondents frequently commented that 'the department doesn't want women.' The subjects generally perceived that after 6 years on patrol, they were still not accepted as officers. They considered themselves to be ignored, harassed, watched, gossiped about, and viewed as sexual objects. Tabular data and 25 references are provided.