Today’s article is a guest post by Paula Parker, 2nd Vice President of Texas Women in Law Emforcement (TWLE) organization and a police officer with Missouri City Police Department. Ms. Parker began her career in law enforcement in 2001. She spent the first six years of her career with Stafford Police Department where she was promoted to Corporal after 2 years and took on the duties as a nightshift supervisor. She also spent time assigned as the School Resource Officers Supervisor. She then moved her career to Missouri City Police Department as the only female on the new Dive Team. Her goal is to become an instructor and help give back the experience she has gained. In this article she discusses the challenges and benefits of women who are seeking careers in law enforcement. Enjoy!
Thinking of becoming a Female Police Officer, working patrol shifts on the streets? If you are serious about starting a career in law enforcement as a police officer, you have probably stopped to think about the challenges females face in a male dominated profession. Consider the challenges females may often face; but more importantly consider the benefits a career in law enforcement offers females.
In recent years, the increase of women in law enforcement has diminished the traditional idea of law enforcement as a male dominant profession. Women have become more prevalent in law enforcement in all areas, from patrol to detectives, or special assignments such as SWAT or honor guard to supervisors, and even chiefs of departments. Female officers over the past three decades have increased, (in large agencies of 100 or more sworn positions) from 2% to 12.7% in 2001.
Based on tradition, as a male dominated profession, women have encountered trials and tribulations in order to better adapt to the field. It has long been thought that females are less physically capable of performing as well as men in policing. Women on average weigh less, are shorter and have less physical strength. Although physical strength has not been studied as a downfall for law enforcement, it merely „weeds out‟ potentially good women (and men).
However, women offer an underlying physical advantage making them just as competent as their male colleague. Women tend to use a style of policing that relies more on (physical) communication rather than physical force. Women have been accredited for a more community-oriented style of policing and thus more effective at handling domestic disturbances or violent incidents. “Women are better at diffusing a situation; they tend to listen more before they react.” Women have been recognized for using less excessive force than men, yet women are not reluctant to use force when necessary.
Physical differences are only one of a number of challenges that females may have to face. Women who succeed in law enforcement typically adapt by becoming mentally strong and finding inner strength to overcome the various challenges. While the challenges women face may appear to be gender biased, ironically there are non gender biases that a career in law enforcement can offer women.
So why should women pursue a career in law enforcement? Law enforcement, in today’s economy, can provide job security. A job that is more than a job, it is a career that provides knowledge and experience that is universal, collective and changes every day. Women respond to the same situations as men, and have the same opportunity to learn, experience and gain the same knowledge.
Law enforcement is not gender biased when it comes to a pay scale. Each officer is (typically) paid by rank and years of experience. Training, which is the stepping stone for increased pay and additional certifications, is available to both women and men. Gender is not a factor in the amount of pay or training officers receive.
Special duty assignments, such as SWAT, dive team or honor guard, are not gender biased. Officers, both female and male, are provided the same opportunity to be a part of these assignments based solely on experience, knowledge and or training. In some circumstances, female officers provide diversity in size and dexterity.
In numerous ways, women have struggled to gain the acceptance of the male colleague in law enforcement. Astoundingly, many women have made the numerous challenges a determination in their pursuit of a noble career in law enforcement. Times have changed from the many years ago when physical strength and ego were a priority. Today women who prevail in law enforcement can be defined by one word; Moxie – the ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage.