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The Real Role of Women in Law Enforcement

Picture: Rodrigo Paredes

The benefits of having a large number of women working in law enforcement and security circles has been established by researchers a long time ago. Nevertheless, females in our industry are still a small minority that have to prove themselves every day, and deal with prejudice and obstacles. What do we truly know about it?

The lack of a considerable number of female officers, especially in mobile police units, is a recurring topic being discussed in police force sectors. Despite regional differences, in recent years, the claim for more female police officers seems to increase worldwide. But why is that?

While some might consider this to be more of a political issue - that certainly can be addressed only from that perspective - pursued by ideological groups, a vast amount of data and studies has been carried out in the past decades. And the scientific finds support an increase in female professionals in our industry for several reasons.

In fact, involving women in the police force is not new. In the United States, for example, the common idea of "All in the service of Being a Good American" widespread in the 1960s generated a societal change with progresses made by women in areas traditionally dominated by men. This culture shift, with females being seen as fully worthy citizen agents encouraged women to seek entry into the workforce and law enforcement was no exception.

Since then, many reports indicate that women officers, particularly those in urban areas, tend to become more confident and sympathetic to somewhat unexpected authority figures than do their male counterparts. The more independent and aggressive performance of female officers might include being able to evaluate sexual harassment allegations extremely quickly, being familiar with child welfare, and saving lives outright.

Additionally, women are more likely than men to be engaged with police services and confident respondents of their field skills. Besides, the most important factor that women cited in selecting a career to pursue is the ability to be effective in a team environment. In this regard, women are the sole major group represented among law enforcement leaders who said that team-oriented work is an essential aspect of their jobs and that teamwork greatly contributes to a police officer's effectiveness.

Therefore, efforts to recruit and develop more women into the security and law enforcement workforce represents a logical effort to improve the quality of our work with these desired professional traits:

1. Women officers are less likely to use excessive force.

2. Women officers are skilled at addressing violence against women and sex crimes.

3. Women officers can help improve police-community relations.

And, much more than that being a unilateral aspiration from within to check boxes or reach percentage goals, women seem to be equally interested in contributing. As an example, 82% of the applicants for the most recent to the Police Executive Research Forum's annual nationwide competition were women.

There is still a long way to go until women in security and law enforcement receive full recognition for the job they do. But we, at the International Association of Personal Protection Agents, value our female members and colleagues as a very much needed addition in our industry.