The potential workplace environment may present some hesitancies on the part of women wanting to work in law enforcement. A testosterone-filled workplace may not seem too friendly to a woman. They may not only be fighting for respect among some of their male colleagues, but they also may find it difficult to achieve that sense of belonging in the environment. This is an issue that may be magnified when it applies to a woman who may be considered physically attractive.
She may be subjected to sexual harassment from some of her of co-workers or superiors, and not only that, her qualifications may be diminished and called into question. A male employee may feel that his female counterpart is inferior or unable to perform her job duties adequately, or he may go as far as saying that she only got her position because of how attractive she is, and not on the merits of her actual qualifications, education, and experience.
Extensive efforts have and must continue to be made to ensure the necessary respect of all employees, regardless of race, gender, or even sexual orientation, and it falls on the individual agencies and employees to do what they can to ensure that the workplace environment is a healthy and inviting one for current and future employees. Many agencies and programs have been designed to help change recruiting and hiring practices and to do a great deal to try to push more women into the law enforcement field, and making that field a level one.
Training is available through certain agencies for those who want to work in law enforcement and have the means to handle themselves properly despite physical shortcomings that might otherwise hold them back. There are also mandatory employment standards set that require a certain amount of consideration and positions to be given to female candidates and employees. This is one aspect where efforts must continue to be stepped up and monitored closely, because these standards are not always heeded.
Some employers just don't make the necessary effort to change and look past certain factors, and as unfortunate as it is, that's just one more obstacle that will take time to overcome. So many regulations, company policies, and programs can be created and implemented, but there has to be cooperation from employers and employees, and female employees just have to continue to prove their merits through their everyday duties. Women have come a long way in the field of law enforcement, but it's obvious that there is still a long way to go. Males still dominate the law enforcement field, and, it goes without saying that they always will.
But, there's no reason to think that more women shouldn't be able to break into the law enforcement field and have successful careers. Men may be stronger, and the environment may be more conducive to male dominance, but women should not feel inferior or be made to feel inferior because of gender. The chauvinism that takes place in the law enforcement field may not always be intentional, but it is still far from being wiped out. But, that's where individual agencies have to take the initiative, look past the past, squash the stereotypes, and try to bring the playing field as close to 100 percent level as possible.
And just as much as the agencies have a responsibility to make women welcome in law enforcement, women have a responsibility to stand up regardless of the obstacles they may face, and that is one case where their actions must speak louder than their words.
Baro, A. L. & Burlingame, D. Women's representation in law enforcement: does calea involvement make a difference? Retrieved 9 November 2006 from SAGE Publications database. Felperin, Jon. Women in law enforcement: two steps forward, three steps back. Retrieved 9 November 2006 from PoliceOne's website: http://www.womenandpolicing.org/