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Survival in an "All Boys Club": Policewomen and Their Fight for Acceptance

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Volume: 31 Issue: 2 Dated: 2008 Pages: 251-270
Cara Rabe-Hemp
Date Published
20 pages
This study of the experiences of female police officers in a Midwestern State focused on the resistance and obstacles they encountered from male officers, the coping mechanisms the female officers used to deal with such resistance, and common themes in female officer's eventual acceptance and integration.
The findings indicate that although the female officers had early occupational experiences of sexual harassment from male officers, along with discrimination and disrespect, after long tenures they achieved acceptance as fellow officers. Female officers are holding high civil service ranks in police agencies and are achieving acceptance and success in stereotypically masculine police assignments. Since police departments nationwide are having difficulty meeting recruitment goals and maintaining full rosters, agencies should increase their efforts to recruit women and ensure that they will enter a welcoming environment in which their contributions to policing are affirmed by male officers. The study sample consisted of 24 female officers, each with varying police experience that ranged from tenures of 10 to 30 years. Only women who had served at least 10 years were interviewed. The sample included nine municipal officers, three county officers, six campus police officers, and six State police, all from a Midwestern State. Eleven of the female officers were from departments with over 100 sworn officers. Twelve of the 24 women interviewed were administrators. The interview protocol consisted of open-ended questions designed to examine the officers' perceived acceptance and integration into their agencies, difficulties associated with police roles and the organization, and coping methods used to overcome resistance to their acceptance by male officers. 2 notes and 69 references