Female police officers experience a higher level of stress vs. male policemen. This is because of existing gender stereotypes, which have a bad psychological effect on female police officers.
Many years have passed since the time when Alice Stebbins Wells joined the Los Angeles Police Department. This is a noteworthy event because she was the first women to join the police.
According to the police administration study in 2008, women encompass only 14.3 percent of law enforcement staff across the United States.
There is a small pay gap between male and female police officers. Mant people believe it’s because there is a public image of police officers as men. Another reason is that female engagement in law enforcement departments are relatively new.
This phenomenon exists even in the most developed countries. Even though governments do not arrange the salaries of law enforcement by gender, the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings of the Office of National Statistics in Britain, found that female officers earned hourly pay 1.44% below that of male officers as of 2011.
Let’s have a closer look at the working environment of female police officers vs. male police officers and the existing discrimination.
Female Police Officers vs. Male Police Officers: Historical Overview and Status of Women in Police
Throughout the history, the number one occupation for women was the position of secretary. There were other famous occupations like bookkeeper, teacher, cashier, waitress, registered nurse, typist, housekeeper, etc.
But these trends started gradually changing in the mid 1980’s. Women began doing a broader range of non-traditional jobs, thus increasing the opportunities for promotion and higher income.
Occupations that were considered non-traditional for women were and still continue to be law, dentistry, medicine, accounting, insurance, sales in manufacturing industries, engineering, brokering and law enforcement.
Even though law enforcement is traditionally known as a male-dominated field, it is noteworthy that the amount of female police officers has increased in the last two decades.
However, this growth is relatively slow, and women are still underrepresented in the field. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, women accounted 12% of full-time local female police officers in 2013. In 1987 it was 8%.
The Number of Female Police Officers Increases; the Pay Gap Remains
Despite the fact that women face discrimination and are still underutilized by law enforcement agencies, their status in this field has been gradually increasing. That’s because female police officers have demonstrated excellent performance in their duties.
Indeed, the percentage of female police officers vs. male counterparts is still relatively low, but opportunities for women are now expanding.
They are slowly and steadily approaching this male-dominated field, thus widening its scope.
Nonetheless, the ongoing under-representation and discrimination against female police officers is a significant issue in law enforcement today.
Generally speaking, gender inequality is a universal problem and more specifically, gender pay gap is a major issue today. Women are more likely to face inequality in the workplace than their male counterparts. Female officers with similar work experience, often receive less pay than male officers.
Gender Inequality and Discrimination Against Female Police Officers
The number one obstacles women face in this field is the attitude of her male co-workers. Although gender discrimination is against any law, it is still a major issue in the workplace.
It would be appropriate to remember the quote by a female police officer, that said, “When you’re in uniform and you’re a man, people see a cop. If you’re a woman and you’re in uniform, people don’t see a cop, they see a woman.”
In a research study conducted, 17 out of 27 women reported that they faced discrimination. Furthermore, those who reported that they didn’t feel discriminated, knew of other female police officers who had experienced discrimination.
The ongoing lack of representation of women in law enforcment leads to a huge number of incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination. For helping to reduce the discrimination against female police officers, we just need to increase the number of women in this field, treat them equally and give them fair hiring and promotion.
According to a survey, the most frequent form of sexual harassment is offensive behaviors directed at women. These behaviors are generally misinterpreted as flattering by the male supervisors or officers.
Below you can find several myths about the reasons for sexual harassment.
- Sexual harassment is a natural and normal behavior. Women should feel complimented when they are considered attractive and desirable.
- Women are responsible for being sexually harassed. It is provoked by their behavior, speech and provocative outfit.
- Female police officers should expect to tolerate dirty jokes, flirting and rough language, as they enter a field that is dominated by men.
Female police officers vs. male police officers: males’ attitude
In addition to the barriers that female police officers face in the field of law enforcement, attitudes of their male counterparts play a key part in the role of female police officers.
The greater oppression of female officers usually comes from their male colleagues. According to some researchers, male officers are not eager to accept female police officers because of the masculine-oriented police subculture. Simply said, men’s opposition to female police officers also reflects the concern about who has a right to manage law and order.
The numerous barriers that women face, not only limit their capabilities, but also increase their vulnerability. Women enter law enforcement jobs at a disadvantage, simply because of their gender.
Many male officers will forever have a disapproving attitude towards their female colleges. Whatever their reasons are, their negative perceptions should be regarded as a major issue that must be strictly controlled by policymakers, or just by someone who cares about gender equality in law enforcement.