The profession of Law Enforcement (LE) is struggling to redefine itself in the changing political and social climate of the 21st century. Amid the plethora of challenges facing the profession is the fight to draw representation from women to participate and advance in the profession. While all LE officers entering and advancing in the profession face challenges, women have the added obstacles of sexual harassment, lack of mentoring, being immersed in a male dominated culture, and tokenism. These identified barriers, although difficult, can be addressed through a conscious and unified effort of mentoring programs, specialized training for women and participation by LE women in professional organizations geared toward the uniqueness of their role in the profession.
Although most law enforcement leaders recognize the obvious gender imbalance in the profession, opponents argue that providing women with specialized training and mentoring may, in fact, reinforce the notion that women are not ready for a career in a field dominated by men. Questions of why portions of already slim budgets should be dedicated to such a small percentage of the work force are raised. However, future driven leaders recognize the potential cost of not addressing the barriers women face, both to LE agencies and their communities. Progressive LE agencies and communities should strive to offer a variety of programs to assist with recruitment and advancement of female law enforcement officers. These programs will benefit the women officers and the communities they serve because of the unique strengths and perspective women bring to the profession.