Closing the Gap: A Look at Gender Disparity Among All Ranks in Law Enforcement Agencies




Janik, Amy L.

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



According to data from the US Census Bureau, women comprise almost exactly half (50.8%) of the population of the United States (US Census Bureau, 2018). However, within the law enforcement profession, women represent only 13% of all police officers (Reaves, 2015). The large disparity in gender representation in the law enforcement profession has been a reality for at least the past four decades, and much research has been conducted in an attempt to identify barriers to women entering into and promoting within the profession. In an era where use of deadly force incidents have driven public perception of police into a downward spiral, agencies and training standards have changed focus to emphasize de-escalation and effective communication skills, understanding personality types, and increasing community engagement efforts. This paper asserts that in continuing these efforts to train officers in developing these soft skills, law enforcement agencies, training divisions, police academies and citizens’ police academies should train all officers – male AND female – in gender differences and attributes. This training can positively affect police-citizen encounters and identify situations which might benefit from the presence or involvement of an officer of a specific gender. In doing so, female and male officers will have a better understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses as they relate to police work and peacefully resolving citizen encounters. In addition, female officers may begin to feel more at ease in entering, remaining in, and promoting up through the profession if they are not trained in the academy to fit into the box of the traditional male officer.


Sex Discrimination in Employment, Policewomen