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Women in Control? The Role of Women in Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
F Heidensohn
Date Published
292 pages
Based on a series of interviews with British and United States women police officers, this study examines women's role in law enforcement in these two societies and the importance of gender in social control.
The first chapter outlines some approaches to the study of social control and of gender and discusses how these approaches might be used to help address whether women are effective in roles of social control. Chapter 2 frames some of the issues that arise as women assume roles in law enforcement and social control. Some issues identified are the roles women now play in social control in certain key agencies, the extent to which these roles are new and distinctive, and the influences that may alter women's role in social control. Chapter 3 considers issues of crime control currently being debated and how this relates to the role of women in law enforcement. Succeeding chapters present the findings of the author's comparative study of the experiences of women police officers in the United States and Britain. Drawing on a series of interviews, she suggests that the natural history of women's law enforcement careers can be understood not only as gender distinctive, but also as shaped by other factors, including the occupational culture of policing. Later chapters deal with the issues raised and the questions answered by the empirical work as well as broader topics. The study concludes that the United States' experience with policewomen is that both women and men can wear the same uniforms without a massive breakdown in public order. The British experience shows that women officers do not need guns as "equalizers." The author concludes with a projection of possible scenarios for the roles of women in law enforcement in the future. Appended details on methodology and a 391-item bibliography