Women in Law Enforcement

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“Women are still being under-used and under-valued in the law enforcement community.”

Currently, women make up 46% of the entire workforce; however only 13% of the law enforcement workforce. Although the total is 13%, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) most of this employment is from large urban police departments. It is not uncommon for smaller police departments to have none or just a small percentage of women on it’s force. Of the 13%, only 5% of African American women make up law enforcement.

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According to the National Center for Women and Policing, only 9.6% are in supervising positions such as sergeants and lieutenants and just 7% of them are in top positions such as a captain or even higher. The numbers show that women are predominately in the lower tiers of service with the exception of some federal law enforcement departments like the FBI.

Women in Law Enforcement Statistics

% of Women in Workforce46%
% of Women in Law Enforcement13%
% of Women in Supervisory Roles7%
% African American Women in Law Enforcement5%
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Women in Law Enforcement Resources:

Detective Suzie Ivy

*Looking for a real world account of what it’s like to be a female in your mid forties pursing your dreams of becoming a law enforcement officer? Check out our interview and book review with Suzie Ivy, author of Bad Luck Cadet & Bad Luck Officer.

The Value of Women in Law Enforcement

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Starting in 1998, the International Association of Chiefs of Police created a committee to explore women in policing. The committee was made up of several female law enforcement officers at all levels. “The Future of Women in Policing” was published and covered the current status of women in law enforcement careers. The IACP and others have consistently found that women can be just as effective, and even more so than male law enforcement officers. The following were some of the findings:

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  • Given the variety of circumstances faced by law enforcement officers, it has been found that women can be just as effective and even more effective in certain scenarios.
  • Women often show a high degree of competency in intellectual and strategic situations and can diffuse potentially dangerous situations with great skill
  • Women still face discrimination, sexual harassment, and peer intimidation in their roles
  • As role models at higher levels of law enforcement increase, the number of women interested increases
  • The media has recently made a shift and portrayed women as competent and effective law enforcement personnel, which is helpful for changing societal assumptions
  • More than two-thirds of current criminal justice students polled are in support of additional women law enforcement officers
  • Women law enforcement officers are especially effective in carrying out the new community model of policing, which is less reactive and more proactive