Women as Police Officers: Too Weak for the Job?

by BeckyGay1 on October 14, 2016 - 1:50pm

          This year has seen its fair share of controversy and hate. Gender equality is a topic that keeps coming up and seems to center on women most of the time. More specifically, society tends to see women as generally weaker and more fragile than men. Women are even discriminated in the work place. A woman, who works at the same place and does the same job as a man, will be payed less than the man despite the fact that both of them have the same job. Women are also seen as easy targets for sexual harassment in the work place. However another controversial question is; are women tough enough to do the job of a police officer?

          Some could say that the work of a police officer is one of the most stressful jobs in the world as officers never know what they will encounter in their day. However, women officers can face many other forms of stress that male officers don’t generally face. Numerous women have described being ignored, bullied, and sexually harassed while working as a police officer. Some female officers have even advised those women who want to become police officers to work harder than the men in training. This is probably so they don’t seem weak. Women actually have to prove themselves to their male colleagues so they won’t get harassed. Male officers in contrast don’t have to prove themselves and seem to always be accepted. Male officers view the women officers as weak and stupid and they know they can take advantage of then because males outnumber females both in the work place and the world.

          Women can be just as good police officers as men; it is just that society as a whole tends to look down on women. We also tend to associate certain jobs with certain genders. For example, football is thought of as a male only sport and ballet is thought of as a female only sport. It is the way we view women that causes their job as a police officer to be stressful. It is important that the children of our future learn that all people; no matter their race, religion, or gender, are equal. If children grow up thinking women are not good enough, then the problem will only continue. Maybe someday, women will be seen as equal to everyone else. 

 

     Sources: https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=89711

                     http://www.officer.com/article/12115302/challenges-as-told-by-female-officers

 

   

                

Comments

Hi BeckyGay1!

I think you did a really nice job explaining how difficult it is for women to be taken seriously in the workforce. Your title of your blog intrigued me because I don’t see women as being too weak for any job so I was very interested to read what you had to say on the topic. It is mind boggling that women are ignored, bullied and sexually harassed when they are just trying to do their job and be seen as equals to men.

I think what you have said speaks to a lot of women, so I did a little research on women in the police force. An article from Time Magazine said that women do not use the same amount of force as men in the sense that they do not think physically about the situation. It goes on further to say that they try to control the situation and look for non-physical solutions. To me, this doesn’t make women appear weak at all, they just take a different approach when compared to men. All in all, I don’t think that women deserve the added stress when it comes to their job because both men and women are equally good police officers with different techniques.

http://time.com/4406327/police-shootings-women-female-cops/

The topic you chose is extremely relevant in modern society, despite the progress we’ve made as a society, women still have difficulty advancing in certain areas, and the workforce is certainly one of those things. It’s important that you pointed out that women are often told to work harder in order to prove themselves to the men that work alongside them, you did a great job of proving your point!

You also pointed out how professions that require greater strength are often male dominated and I think this point is critical to your analysis. As a patriarchal society, we have created this image of hegemonic masculinity that requires that men fit all criteria in the “man box”. The man box describes all the attributes that men should have in order to be characterized as perfect or valuable to our society. Attributes in the man box include strong, violent, and unemotional. In order for women to fit in to their perfect image that society prescribes, they must have all the opposite characteristics.

This can then explain why women are considered too weak for the job, and why men dominate the field of police work. Women that choose to defy these stereotypical images are continuously being pushed out of the man box, which explains the numerous difficulties female police officers face at work.

Helpful information on the man box that can help you further your analysis can be found here: http://www.wgac.colostate.edu/men-and-masculinities

I think you made some really good points regarding the views of women in the workplace and in the world. Although it is a sensitivfe topic along with many others similar too it, it doesnt mean it is a topic that needs to be overlooked and im glad you made a piece on it. I also really liked how you brought up the concept of educating future generations to be more understanding of the world we live in and the people that live within it regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion. I think this is a practice that our society that we live in today is really trying to push, and for the most part i believe it ahs really come along way especially with looking back in our history, assimilation of people has grown significantly. This is a tough topic because although views have changed significantly over the years, it is impossible to change the views of everyone and unfortunately there will always be people out their who will discriminate against specific differences in people in the world, that is just something that cannot be changed no matter how much effort goes into it, and i think that idea is an importantconcept for people in the world to understand aswell. In no way whatsoever am i saying that those people have the right to be discriminating against people for specific reasons, but to some extent there really isnt a way we can stop it completely atleast in the wortd we live in today, and i think that its important for people to understand, and to prepare themselves for situations they may run into, and know there are people who can help with these situations, and that not everyone is against them and atleast for the most part people respect and understand their way of life and accept it. It is horrible what some people go through just for the ethnicity, or gender or religion, and i think as a people we have had progress in reducing this but this should be an ongoing practice to try to reduce it as much as possible.

Evening Becky. It's truly sad that workplace inequality exists in the world, doubly so in police forces. I like your example of female officers having to prove themselves, because I believe it happens a lot more than we probably think it does, and I'd have to agree with you that we have to change our way of thinking when it comes to automatically associating certain jobs to certain genders. The thing is, female officers are extremely important and shouldn't be shunned by their peers. Not all police calls are for use of physical brute force where women have to prove themselves in the coliseum so to say, but some require a touch many males may not be able to address. If a call is made where someone has been abused and distrust males, it is very important to have the option to send trained female officers as well or it might just aggravate the situation. It's imperative their coworkers are able to see their value rather than seeing them as a hindrance since they may not be as physically fit or leering at them because "Oh it's a girl doing a man's job". Problem is, this type of thinking has been ingrained for a very long time in society and needs to basically educated and bred out much like racism is being addressed. It's a slow and painful process. Hopefully this will one day be a thing of the past, but we're going to have a lot of people kicking and screaming on the way down.

Hi BeckyGay1,

Your article is very interesting as it offers a unique viewpoint however I do not believe it represents reality accurately. I agree with you that women are victims of stereotypes such as being weak and they are more likely targets than men in the work place.

However, this could be blamed on the stereotypical portrayal of men. In fact, men are supposed to respond to all the aspects in the "man box”, which consists of different criteria a male needs to act in our society. With that in mind, men also face tremendous adversity. By not responding to the "man box" values, men are usually shamed and may be called homophobic or sexist slurs. In this article, you are speaking about the stereotypical man who is supposed to seek all the different elements to be masculine. In society, however, a minority of men can identify themselves with all the criteria. In this case, men are particularly more scared of coming out of the "man box" as the feeling of failure towards their gender would be interpreted by society as a failure.You can find more details on the different types of criteria "required" for the "man box" threw https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/the-courage-to-come-out-of-t...

Hi BeckyGay1,

I completely agree with you that there should be more female cops. This goal is difficult to reach due to the male-dominated workplaces that they work in. As you said, female officers are constantly being harassed by their male colleagues because women are seen as too weak for this job. They are also more exposed to sexual harassment perpetrated by their male colleagues.
However, the lack of female police officers can also be explained by the “mommy track”. It refers to the diminishing opportunities women face in the work force after having children.
Since the work hours of police officers are unaccommodating, and the job itself is classed the 9th most dangerous job in America, women are more hesitant about becoming a police officer than men are. After all, mothers are depicted as the one who takes care of the children, so mothers sometimes take a part-time job with a flexible schedule in order to take care of her children. That’s another reason why the law enforcement is a male-dominated job.

Otherwise, your article perfectly explains the other difficulties that female officers face in the workforce!

Here’s more about the “mommy track”: http://www.economist.com/node/21560856

Hi, BeckyGay1

I couldn't agree with you anymore! I want to say that you objectively evaluate the current situation of women in your article. It is not only about whether women have the ability to be a good police officer as men does, but also about the idea that women can do anything as same as men can do. The society is quiet problematic, since females and males are treated differently and unequally. Men, even some women, neither believe nor support women. Some jobs are not offered for women; some are only offered for beautiful women. For instance, I have seen a pub hiring new waitresses, and the requirements are: good-looking women, 18-25 years old, 160-175 height ... I couldn't imagine what the new waitresses have to do in that pub, they may get sexual harassment! generally, men don't have to worry about this.

Furthermore, women have a lot more difficult situations than men, such as giving birth to a baby. As for being a mother, women have to spend much more time than men spend on looking after their children, also for their families. However, the situation is that the companies don't hire mothers because they will be distracted from other things, like housework. If you would like to know more about this topic, I recommend you to read through Mommy Track. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mommy_track

Hello,

You have very well pointed out the main issues for women who work at the jobs that are dominated by men such as police. I agree that the women in police department are often treated differently due to the stereotypes that are still rooted in the society. There is certainly a need to change our views towards women at work.

The issues you have discussed remind me of another problem that can further justify the inequality between sexes: the wage gap. Women at work tend to receive lower pay than men due to the mommy track. The fact that women have to choose between taking care of their children and their career reduce their opportunity to be promoted, which would also affect their salary. The danger in the job would make it harder for female officers to choose. This probably explains why female officers are regarded as weak by their male counterparts as you mentioned. It is therefore important to allow those women to return to their jobs by offering them posts are that less involved with violence such as instructors and office workers.

Here is an article that discusses the wage gap in police department:
http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/in-plain-sight/police-pay-gap-many-americ...

I enjoyed your article for many reasons. The first reason was that from the get go, the title was formulated in an intriguing way which spiked my curiosity as a reader. The fact that I then started thinking about women in the police force, and the issues that they must deal with on a daily basis, made me realize how effective the title was. In other words, it immediately set itself apart from the rest of the articles that I had been reading. Furthermore, I appreciated how you explained the difficulties of life in the police force as a woman because it is a new topic that does not get too much press, or at least not nearly enough, so it was even more of an interesting read.
However, to further your analysis, I would suggest that you study the problems that policewomen face in the force while bearing in mind the concept of “mommy track”. As a matter of fact, gender based discrimination in the workforce is, in part, the result of the "mommy track" phenomenon. This means that a portion of the reason why women seem to fail to garner the respect of their male peers in the police force is due to the way that the male police officers perceive them as both mothers and officers at the same time. The respective responsibilities of both roles conflict to a degree where women must chose between adopting male behaviours to further their careers, at the expense of their family lives, or chose to raise their children and be involved in their family’s life, albeit at the expense of their careers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mommy_track

This was very enjoyable to read! You did really well with explaining the difficulties women are still facing within the workforce in todays modern society. I agree with your fact that the work of a police officer is extremely stressful and that the added scepticism put on the success of women in this field can only add to their demanding job. The title of your post really attracted me to read this as it is a statement thrown around too often and it really made me question the truth behind it. I completely agree with all the points you make as the most ‘socially acceptable’ jobs for women are as you described and yes, they have overcome many obstacles in the workplace, gender inequality is an extremely relevant problem in todays world. Again, I really enjoyed this article and so done some more research on some facts and figures of the matter of inequality in the general workforce and the website included below shows some good ones!

http://www.ncemploymentattorneys.com/blog/gender-inequality-in-the-workp...

Hi Becky,

I was automatically intrigued when I saw your title, which very clearly shows the conception most people have of women in male-dominated professions like law enforcement. I absolutely agree that gender stereotypes and norms create a feeling of being “out of place” for women as police officers. One of my mother’s friends became a police officer in Toronto about 2 years ago, leaving a job in the financial sector. From her experiences, I would absolutely say women are “tough enough” to be police officers – she trained and studied for her physical and written exams every day in order to be ready, and when she didn’t pass her physical exam on the first try, she didn’t give up. Instead, she sought out a trainer who had previously been a police officer, and worked with him not only to become ready to pass the physical exam, but to train skills and muscles specifically that she would need in the line of duty – going above and beyond what many people would have done to prepare.

The route to becoming an officer was a long and grueling process, and while there were times when she felt exhausted or as if it wouldn’t be worth it, the emotional fortitude she had allowed her to push past these barriers. As an officer, she’s dealt with everything from a “UFO” (that turned out to be a drone) and horrible cases like murder-suicides. Her unique experiences as a woman have shaped the kind of officer she is today, and she brings different skills to the force such as foreign language proficiencies. I would argue that women have the potential to be better police officers than men, because there’s a level of emotional strength they can develop from navigating harassment and inequality in the workplace and in the wider world. There’s also a unique female perspective that lends itself to de-escalating violent situations that some studies have found (https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/07/02/how-more-fem...), but as you mentioned, discrimination and antagonism towards women in this profession can dissuade applicants. Do you think there are some ways that these attitudes can be discouraged in law enforcement workplaces and hiring?

I chose to comment on your post because it is a very controversial topic with a variety of standpoints. I agree that being a police officer is possibly one of the most stressful jobs, and that women experience different stresses than men on a daily basis because of their gender. However, you have made some statements that I disagree with. In response to your comment saying women have to try harder than men in police training and men "don't have to prove themselves and are always accepted", I argue that every applicant to the police academy has to prove themselves in training (regardless of sex) or else they wont be accepted. If a man doesn't try and prove himself, HE comes off as weak to all the other men, and that is not ideal when training for a tough job. You also make some bold statements, including "male officers view women officers as weak and stupid", which is an extreme generalization, and from my experiences not true at all. Also, you have not included any quantitative or qualitative statistics to back up your statements, leading me to believe they are all opinionated assumptions.
** In my experiences, all the female police officers I've dealt with have been tough as heck, so in no way do I think women aren't cut out for the job.

Hi BeckyGay1,
I really enjoyed reading your post, as I think you did a good job of picking one example of a societal-level inequality and contextualizing it with a specific example. I've been really happy to see all the attention being given to gender issues in the workplace in recent years, as I believe its definitely one of those problems that improves with the more light you shine on it, and the more companies, industries and individuals become aware of how gender factors into their hiring practices.
I definitely agree with your point that gender inequalities in police work go beyond discrimination in the hiring process- I can see how the aspect of police work that involves being seen as an authority figure in a society that still often fails to respect women in positions of power could add a whole new spectrum of problems.
That said, I believe that greater inclusion of women in fields they are typically underrepresented in is valuable not only from the perspective of human rights, but also because women bring new skill sets into these fields. Not to generalize at all, but studies have shown that the way boys and girls are socialized into actors and communicators respectively has made female police officers more capable of resolving conflict peacefully. You might be interested in this video I happened to come across on why we need more women police officers- https://www.facebook.com/attn/videos/1153377881364336/. Thanks for a great post!

Hi BeckyGay1,
I really enjoyed reading your post, as I think you did a good job of picking one example of a societal-level inequality and contextualizing it with a specific example. I've been really happy to see all the attention being given to gender issues in the workplace in recent years, as I believe its definitely one of those problems that improves with the more light you shine on it, and the more companies, industries and individuals become aware of how gender factors into their hiring practices.
I definitely agree with your point that gender inequalities in police work go beyond discrimination in the hiring process- I can see how the aspect of police work that involves being seen as an authority figure in a society that still often fails to respect women in positions of power could add a whole new spectrum of problems.
That said, I believe that greater inclusion of women in fields they are typically underrepresented in is valuable not only from the perspective of human rights, but also because women bring new skill sets into these fields. Not to generalize at all, but studies have shown that the way boys and girls are socialized into actors and communicators respectively has made female police officers more capable of resolving conflict peacefully. You might be interested in this video I happened to come across on why we need more women police officers- https://www.facebook.com/attn/videos/1153377881364336/. Thanks for a great post!

Hi! This is definitely an interesting topic and the title of your post really caught my eye. I think that you raised many good points in your post. There is certainly a lot of discrimination against women in the police force and the workforce at large that women continue to face. This includes sexual harassment and assault in many cases that often goes unnoticed. From what I've heard, due to the fact that the police force is largely dominated by men, it is like an "old boys club" so if there is talk degrading women, it is generally ignored and women are often forced to go along with it so that they are accepted and thought of as "one of the boys". While this may not seem like that big of a deal, it becomes a larger problem because it leads to a culture of ignoring the harassment faced by women in the police force, creating an unsafe work environment for women and discourages more women from joining police forces. I found an article in the Huffington Post about the RCMP that was very informative about this issue. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/02/21/rcmp-sexual-harassment_n_9286486...
That being said, not all male police officers look down on women and behave this way and not all women in the police force are sexually harassed and degraded. This is where I think that your post could be improved, so that you don't paint the situation in such broad strokes. That being said, it is a very important issue to discuss and just because it is not representative of everyone in the police force, does not mean it is not prevalent and should be ignored. We need more women in the police force, as they often offer a different perspective than men in many situations, as explained by a video I recently saw on Facebook (that was actually already linked by seawalker in their comment). In order to get more women in the police force, we need to address these issues of sexual harassment and assault and I think that your post did an excellent job of bringing this issue to light. Great job!

I agree with your argument that women are as fit as men to be police officers or any job that requires physical strength, and the reason we believe women cannot do so is because our society’s stereotypes that women are physical weaker than men. This is how the glass ceiling manifests in the police force and most careers. The glass ceiling is an invisible barrier placed on women and other discriminated minorities from climbing up the corporate ladder. In terms of the police force, women will have a harder time getting high positions and recognized because of the male domination in this field. A police officer is expected to be physically and emotionally strong to be able to work efficiently. This is why we associate men with this job because women are seen as caring and weak. These two factors are used by some men to push women down the ladder creating this barrier against women which explains why not many women will pursue a job as a police officer or any jobs where these stereotypes hold them back. Therefore this only reasserts their masculinity once more which allows them to even go higher up the ladder. If we can get past the stereotypes, women are definitely capable to do a job as good as men with equal training opportunities.

If you want to learn more about the glass ceiling, this link here explains what it means and how it presents itself in our society: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/work/g/glass_ceiling.htm

As a man that has a fiancé who completed the police academy I feel I have to disagree with most of these comments. I sincerely apologize in advance if I offend anyone on this site.

My fiancé went through the police academy and started her Field training last year. She quit before finishing the three months of training because I asked her too and here is why.

Right now (2016 statistics), deaths of cops by gunfire is up 72%. Whether your a male or female police officer, that is not good statistics. Being a female cop mean you ARE MOST LIKELY at a physical disadvantage of a larger and more aggressive male. This would be ok if police officers all had partners to get their backs, but most of them patrol alone and ask for assistance if a bad situation presents itself.

While / After my fiancé was in the police force I worked with her on defense / control tactics (I have 7 years of martial arts experience and a year + of Jujitsu which I started when she was in the academy because it seemed like something we could do together and I really enjoy wrestling / grappling).

I can tell you from working with her that the PT / DT (physical training / Defense tactics) in the Washington state police academy is technically great, but in real world situations very poor. I could easily take her down and submit her quickly even when she came at me with boxing gloves on and I was just doing defense and wrestling her down. Also, after watching her Defense tactics test to get out of the academy where there were not allowed to actually punch the big guy that they were grappling against, I thought it was a total joke. Basically she was trying to hold on to him with a bent arm bar and kneeing him as he was tossing / throwing her on the ground multiple times. Not once did he strike her or wrestle her to the ground and offer realistic fighting. Once she got him to the ground, she didn't have to submit him or put handcuffs on him...the fight was just "over".

In addition to this, I grabbed her fake gun and she tried her handgun retention skill one night with me and couldn't come close to regaining control of the gun again.

This is what I call unacceptable training for someone that will be on the street trying to deal with mainly aggressive men (93% of inmates in jail are men). Her first call was with three other cops (one other being female). The male cop took the 19 year old male to the ground because he felt threatened by him and the other three helped wrestle him to the ground. I asked her what she would have done if it was just her and / or the other female cop with her. She said it would have gone down totally different, but what if it didn't and she was in that scenario? Mace or taser? Either way she is new and probably wouldn't have used them in time.

I guess my point is that most of the time we should let men deal with men. Sure, have some female cops around for situations with women and children...that really does make total sense, but I don't believe they should be patrolling on their own without a partner or backup.

This is just my two cents. I want to marry this amazing gal and have kids with her and I want her to be in one piece when I do.

Hey gymkata98,

I’m not offended by your comment, but I want to unpack some of your arguments. It sounds to me like the training here is the issue, not your fiancée’s capabilities. She hasn’t been trained to deal with cases where she will be physically weaker than an attacker, and that’s a shortcoming of the police force training rather than an inherent weakness. By compromising the reality of drills like her Defense Tactics test, she’s certainly not getting the skills she needs to deal with these situations when they arise on the job. Unfortunately, you seem to see this as a woman problem and not a training problem.

You said you have 7 years of martial arts training and a year of Jujitsu - if you took a random man off the street and went through the same drills you went through with your fiancée, I think it’s unlikely that man would be able to overpower you either. You simply have better training honed through practice. When she was on her first call, and the male cop with her was able to subdue a 19 year old man, do you really think that 19 year old was on the same level of skill as the male cop? No, the cop has better training and because training in the police force was tailored towards men, he was able to get a favourable outcome.

Applying cookie cutter techniques to training, especially in a dangerous profession like the police force, is a recipe for injuries and death for those trained improperly. I absolutely agree that police officers should have partners at all times, but women should especially be trained for situations where they will be patrolling alone and have to defend themselves.

Your fiancée said that if she had been alone or with another woman on patrol, the situation would have been handled differently. This is not necessarily a bad thing as you seem so eager to jump to – studies have shown (https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/07/02/how-more-fem...) that women are better at de-escalating situations before they turn violent. If the rate of police deaths by gunfire is increasing, would it not be better to have cops who are able to prevent violent situations from happening, as well as deal with them effectively?

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