Essay on Female Law Enforcement Officers

Published: 2021/12/02
Number of words: 2506

The integration of women into law enforcement positions is one of the most significant social changes globally. Several decades ago, women were consistently discriminated against in some kinds of jobs, and it was not easy for them to get absorbed in jobs considered masculine. Only a few women worked in correctional facilities with light and limited duties assigned to them. This paper, therefore, talks about the representation of women in the United States law enforcement department. The article researches the quality effects of women involved in the service, the statistics of the history of involvement of women in the previous years, and the impact of integrating them in the department. Consequently, the paper also talks about women’s experience in law enforcement and why they are underrepresented. Finally, the paper will discuss the challenges that women in the service undergo in their daily operations.

Women were considered in juvenile correctional facilities and mostly handled fellow female offenders and, at some moments, performed clerical jobs. All these happened because women were deemed incapable of handling some enforcement tasks as their male counterparts could. The National Centre for Women and Policing reported in 2001 revealed that only 12.7 % of women were represented in the law enforcement department, which was a significant drop from the 14.3 % represented in 1999. The survey was conducted to know the information regarding employment and motivation to work as enforcement officers (Seklecki & Paynich, 2007). The undertaken study also aimed to get information regarding the low representation of women in the police force. However, recently, many options have been offered to women creating several careers for them. In fact, in the United States, the number of women law enforcement officers has increased over time, increasing representation in the law enforcement department. By 2018, the percentage of women in the police was 12.6%, a small figure but considering that the population has increased over time, the portion means that more women are absorbed in the service. Initially, the women officers were mainly employed as prison matrons, but their roles became more diversified approaching the 20th century. It is also imperative to say that women police officers have struggled to be accepted in the workplace, with significant stereotyping and intersectionality challenges.

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There have been significant impacts of integrating women in the US law enforcement department. The effects have been primarily practical and positive. Since the 19th century, women’s integration in policing has positively impacted violent crime reporting and domestic violence-related issues. The two dimensions clearly showed that the integration of female officers improved the quality of the police. A crime investigation data, for example, showed that as the representation of women were increasing in the service in a given area, cases of violence against women, like domestic violence, were reported to the police at higher rates than before the women were inducted into the service (Miller & Segal, 2019). This means that women were susceptible to domestic violence issues that most men concealed most of the time. Secondly, with an increase in the number of female officers in the police service, there was an evident decrease in the rates of intimate partners’ deaths at home, homicide, and non-fatal domestic abuses as the female officers did not hesitate to report such matters. All these pieces of evidence pointed to the fact that integration of women in the law enforcement service improved the quality of the police in the United States.

Working as a law enforcement officer, the officers cannot go without some challenges despite protecting the nations. One of the challenges that law enforcement officers in the United States undergo is a felony. Different viewpoints predict different outcomes for the deaths of the officers in the line of duty. In a study to confirm whether women officers are subjected to greater or lesser amounts of violence than their female counterparts, findings concluded that male police officers suffered much more fatal violence than their female counterparts (Lichtenberg, 2019). The data was extracted from a study that sought to compare deaths among law enforcement officers.

However, several decades ago, being integrated into the law enforcement department, women have mixed experience in the service: motivation and demotivation to work in the service. They have undergone several challenges that range from the types of tasks they have to do and discrimination they have continued to face. Women in the service have faced discrimination and harassment in their places of work from their male counterparts. It even becomes hard for a woman to move up in ranks in the profession due to some barriers. It is important to note that women police officers experience discrimination in work and domestic stations. Women police officers married to fellow male officers suffer more significant risks of domestic violence. Some of the challenges that women police officers have faced in the United States are not limited to the ones discussed below.

First, women police officers have undergone harassment at the workplace, overloaded by work. Harassment is undesired conduct based on color, gender, race, sex, disability, among other undesirable behaviors against another person. Subsequently, women police officers have undergone psychological distress as a result of the harassment meted on them. Since time immemorial, harassment exposure has not been new to the women workforce. The harassments range from restricted work freedom, increased emotional turbulence and disturbance, and prolonged psychological and mental distress. It is scientifically a confirmed case that the health of working women declines when their working hours are increased in abundance due to unpredictable duty calls and when accompanied by an experience of harassment from male colleagues. Expected harassment, being a dominant male career may explain women’s reluctance to join the profession. Some types of harassment include unprofessional comments, censured behaviors, intimidation, direct threats, and physical damage at the workplace, among others (Shahid & Farooq, 2020). This informs why male officers have been suspicious and unconvinced regarding the integration of women in the service due to their nature of physical and emotional weakness that makes them susceptible to harassment and attack.

Women officers, especially of advanced ages, are also more likely to encounter psychological distress than the young women in the service. A study also revealed that family and family income are also determinants of distress in working women, with married women having much more stress than unmarried women. Types of the work given, overtime works and less manning were identified as significant stressors for female officers. Further over the unpredictable number of working hours by women, inconsistent job descriptions, and change of working shifts even at odd hours are psychological challenges. As a result, psychological distress has been described as the absence of motivation, restlessness, and worry about the future. All these have resulted in women losing enthusiasm and, at worse, consider suicide at times (Shahid & Farooq, 2020). From the above discussions and highlights, it is imperative to conclude that workplace harassment and work overload are contributing factors igniting psychological distress in women, especially women police officers, due to the complex and complicated nature of their jobs. Equally, the employers’ work environment and personal characteristics also affect the psychological well-being of female police officers. The hostile environment that does not care for personal safety and security services as a predicament of emotional turmoil explaining why female law enforcement officers are easy and frequent targets of gender-based stereotyping and harassment at the workplace. As a result, it is essential to take these factors into account and taking women officers as an embodiment of women empowerment.

Other types of discrimination include sexuality and racial discrimination. Sexual orientation has dramatically impacted the experience of police officers. Women who have non-heterosexual orientations have dealt with an increased set of stereotypes, exclusion, and harassment. Lesbian police officers have had to negotiate for their identity and relationship at the workplace since it cannot be detected by sight alone. However, many lesbians shy from coming out due to the stigmas they are treated to, which may lead to discrimination in the hiring process and promotions. In terms of race, women of color have greatly suffered from domination and discrimination as they also negotiate for politics of affirmative action and racism. The racism meted on the black women always leads to suspicion and hostility in their workplace. Apart from getting less protection, they also get much disrespect from the male counterparts. Women experience much racial discrimination than their male counterparts in the workplace. Sexual harassment has not been a light issue as women have undergone unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors physical harassment of sexual nature, among others. Offensive remarks about sex have also been a challenge to women in the force.

Another challenge that women in the police force have experienced is stress and cardiovascular disease risks. Studies have shown that cardiovascular diseases are directly related to stress that a person undergoes in the workplace. Cardiovascular diseases are heart conditions that include diseased vessels, structural problems, and even blood clots. Examples of cardiovascular diseases include heart attack and cardiac arrest, coronary heart failure, among other diseases. It is a disease that is highly fatal and causes slow death. Police officers experience an increased risk of death from cardiovascular diseases than the general population. This is due to the stress that comes with the job description of police officers. It is said to be among the most stressful jobs in the world. Women police officers have been confirmed to suffer more cardiovascular diseases than their male counterparts likely. This is due to the reason that female law enforcement officers have higher stress than the male counterparts. The susceptibility of hyperglyceridemia and diabetes is much higher in female law enforcement officers than that of the ordinary female population. Therefore, it is highly likely that female police officers are at greater risk for cardiovascular diseases than male police officers. Studies have also shown that cardiovascular disease risk correlates with factors resulting from within the law enforcement organizations. One research has linked cardiovascular disease risk to fatigue associated with working in shifts, barriers in controlling working hours, continual exposure to stress, and work-life imbalance (Yoo & Franke, 2011). Further, the study reveals that police officers who work on night shifts, work overtime, and have fewer sleeping hours are much more susceptible to suffer adverse health consequences and cardiovascular diseases among the police officers in the United States.

Similarly, extended psychological tensions associated with the police may lead to exhaustion. Workers who suffer from fatigue always have high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and the inflammatory marker c-reactive proteins. Increased levels of these conditions have been regarded as indicators and sources of risks for cardiovascular diseases (Yoo & Franke, 2011). Since women are naturally considered weak and quickly become emotional, women police officers are likely to be susceptible to cardiovascular diseases associated with stress at workplaces. These are some of the reasons why women are less represented in the workforce in the United States. Studies have been carried out to reduce cases of stress and morbidity due to cardiovascular diseases that have become rampant among the police force, especially the women in the workforce.

Moreover, women always get challenges integrating into the police force smoothly due to family issues. Here, married women always find more pressure than unmarried women. Pregnancy and motherhood have made it difficult for women police officers. Balancing work and family issues, the care of children, and pregnancy while in active service has been a great challenge to women. Many police forces in the world always tend to make it mandatory to be available at all times because deployment is unpredictable. The United States is not an exception. In a study to better understand issues associated with pregnancy and motherhood among female police officers; concerning their jobs and how they frame their cases, several conclusions came up: pregnancy and motherhood are considered a risky business, and so law enforcement organizations view pregnancy as a crime or un-wellness (Cowan, R. L., & Bochantin, J. E. (2009). This means that it is challenging for women in the service to become pregnant. If already pregnant, they find it very difficult to multitask between the family and the profession. Equally, mothering skills are not much valued depending on the sphere, and therefore balancing work and life is almost impossible.

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Consequently, it is highly difficult for female law enforcement officers in the United States to belong to the group if they have children or plan to have children. The findings suggest that women are still not highly valued in the United States police force. These are among the many reasons women find themselves demotivated to join the police force. However, several studies are being undertaken to ensure that the female colleagues’ challenges are resolved, and it becomes attractive to the female counterparts again.

In conclusion, the integration of women in law enforcement positions is one of the social milestones in the United States and the world. This is because several decades ago, women were discriminated against for some jobs that were seen to be a bit masculine. For example, even after being integrated into the police service, there are some tasks that women could not do. They mostly worked as matrons and also performed some clerical works. However, with time the number of female officers has increased in the United States, despite still having low representation compared to their male counterparts. The inclusion of females into the police has dramatically impacted the quality of the police force positively. Cases of gender-based violence cases have been reported at higher rates since the inclusion of female officers than before they were integrated. Equally, the female officers have done diligent work wherever they are given tasks to perform. However, just like in other countries that take policing as a masculine job, the female police officers have gone through rocky roads even as they try to be at par with their male counterparts in terms of recognition. Women police officers have undergone much discrimination based on color and sex and have experienced many stigmatizations, especially lesbians. They have undergone harassment, difficulty in balancing work and family and work, among others. However, studies are being undertaken to encourage full female inclusion in the police force and improve equality between female and male police officers.

References:

Cowan, R. L., & Bochantin, J. E. (2009). Pregnancy and Motherhood on the Thin Blue Line: Female Police Officers’ Perspectives on Motherhoodin a Highly Masculinized work environment. Women & Language, 32(1).

Lichtenberg, I. (2019). A comparative analysis of male and female police officers feloniously killed. Police practice and research, 20(4), 394-404.

Miller, A. R., & Segal, C. (2019). Do female officers improve law enforcement quality? Effects on crime reporting and domestic violence. The Review of Economic Studies, 86(5), 2220-2247.

Seklecki, R., & Paynich, R. (2007). A national survey of female police officers: An overview of findings. Police Practice and Research, 8(1), 17-30.

Shahid, S., & Farooq, Z. (2020). Workplace Harassment, Work Overload, and Psychological Distress in Female Police Officers. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, 141-161.

Yoo, H., & Franke, W. D. (2011). Stress and cardiovascular disease risk in female law enforcement officers. International archives of occupational and environmental health, 84(3), 279-286.

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