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Female Police Officers And Gender Discrimination



     In the United States today it is common knowledge that a person cannot be discriminated against based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc in just about any situation one can think of. This compilation of acts includes but is not limited to hiring, firing, promotion and demotion, of female officers on the police forces of America. (Rafter & Stanko 30).

However, strangely enough, this well-known fact is often easily ignored in the cases of many female officers; many more fear to speak out because of retaliation and prejudices that will be lodged against them if they were to step forward. Social scientists believe that there are several factors involved in making changes to the collective mind in similar situations such as these. Among them are attitude, structure (as in the structure of society), and the technical aspects specific to the situation to which they are applied. The number of reports filed rises every year, indicating that the problem is becoming more pronounced, than more and more women are being harassed, belittled and demeaned simply because they were born female. A chief complaint among these women who do speak out is that they are passed over for promotion, the positions instead given to men with lesser qualifications.



1-1 Legal Facts

     The Equal Opportunity Commission sits in charge of keeping track of those state and federal laws and amendments that prohibit discrimination and/or harassment while in pursuit of gainful employment. Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that there will be no employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. (Solotoff & Kramer 55). The Equal Pay Act of 1963 protects both men and women who perform equal work in the same workplace environment from sex-based wage discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 provides for damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination, among other things. There are more references to be cited but these are the most important to this cause and its cases. It is vital that men and women be considered as equal in the eyes of the business world if our society is to continue with a relative medium of balance. For either sex to be hired or promoted over the other simply because of their gender is morally wrong and ethically reprehensible. In addition, if these men or women are doing the exact same job, in the exact same environment, they should receive equal pay for their work. Difference in anatomy should not be the basis on which a pay scale is determined. It places a true label upon whichever gender is devalued as somehow inferior to the other, which is of course untrue in the case of men versus women. (Washington 50).


1-2 Female Police Officers

     An area where women experience quite a bit of workplace discrimination is police work, and cases range from mild to severely scary, from every state in the country. Generally, female officer’s report that they are either barely tolerated by their male colleagues, or is treated with outright hostility. They experience a variety of discriminatory practices while on the job, mostly based on misconceptions about female officers as emotionally, mentally, and physically fragile. (Denov 90). Despite the fact that these misconceptions are proven wrong day in and day out, women still report a high rate of promotion pass over, termination without just cause, and more. Race also may play a part in the nature of the discriminatory actions, but even without it factored into the equation, there are still far too many women who experience harassment and discrimination as police officers, simply because they are female. Offenses can be mild, such as undue ribbing after reporting a crude joke to a supervisor or they can be severe, being passed over for a promotion in favor of a male officer with much less experience and general education. (Rhode 400).

     One might think that with such events being so common and occurring so frequently that more women would speak out than actually do. Many fear retaliation from their supervisors and co-workers, afraid of being labeled as a snitch, or some other similar title, which would further hinder their progress in the department. The situation is akin to a rape victim being afraid to bring their case to light; they fear the return or repeat of previous events, and any retaliation that could be brought against them just for making their voices heard. Few who speak out against their tormentors actually walk away from the case unscathed. There is usually some sort of counteraction taken by those implicated as the source of the discrimination, harassment, or threatening behavior or by their supervisors. Whether this counteraction is mounted against the female officer because she has spoken out or because of whom she named as being involved varies from case to case. Some retaliation is seen unconscious, an unfortunate human reflex to get back at someone who is seen as having wronged another.

1-3 Implications of Discrimination

     Social Science has always been intrigued by the implications of workplace discrimination in general, much more so when the situation involves discrimination of a female by a male. There is a dynamic in our society that should not be upset; that the police are our protectors and enforcers of our laws, right down to the town ordinance that forbids walking sideways down a freeway ramp at 12 am. (Ruiz & Hummer 61).

No matter the law, so long as it is just, and not terribly out-dated (i.e. laws pertaining to prohibition) it should be enforced by a unified police force, not one that is divided amongst its various factions that cannot work together due to prejudice and discrimination. (Cohn 20). Through efforts to alter the attitudes of those involved, it is possible to change such situations for the better, and studies have shown that younger, better-educated male officers did not have nearly the number of incidents with female co-workers, as did older male officers with equal or lower education. This is hopefully positive evidence that old prejudices are fading with the introduction of each new generation to the workforce in America, slowly eliminating old habits, thoughts, and actions that have been accepted for far too long.
No other male official that might have had a say in who was posted where denied that they had requested an all male protection detail, and some even added that it had been worked by female officers in the past. In November of 2008, the city of Billings Montana stated that it would settle a dispute by three female officers, pitting city lawyers against the lone attorney hired to represent the women. (Gerber 146). Officers Sandy Leonard, Gaye Gauthier, and Detective Becky Hagen filed a discrimination complaint with the Human Rights Bureau in 2005. They claimed gender was a factor when none were appointed background investigator at the department. This suit prompted the Police Chief and staff to make changes to the department’s hiring policies, making job descriptions and requirements clearer for future applicants. The three officers were awarded 135,000 dollars from the Billings Police Department’s “Personal Fund” to end the dispute. (Bhardwai 34).

Though our society as a whole has adapted to the most part to women in the workplace, unfortunately adapted does not always mean that the working women are accepted by their male co-workers. (Hansen 33). This often occurs in the cases of female police officers, who report often times they are either barely tolerated by their male counterparts, or have open hostilities leveled against them. Despite the well-known fact that it is illegal to make gender a condition of employment, discrimination against a woman simply because she is female happens often in police departments around the country. Under the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Civil Rights Acts of both 1964 and 1991 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 more women are winning their equality on the force, for the first time or after many years of fighting for their rights. Social scientists are very interested in these battles for equal rights, for they may predict the swing of regard for women’s equality nationwide. Though the number of reports filed by women on the force reporting discrimination and or harassment raises yearly, the number of women who do not report their cases, enduring their pain in silence, overshadows it.


 II- Methodologies



The methodology of any piece of research is crucial to its outcome, as design flaws and logical inconsistencies can make all the effort put into it become worthless. For the current project, the chosen methodology is focused on phenomenological paradigms. In order to justify the choice, a brief definition of methodological topics will be provided at first.


2.1 Paradigms, Phenomenological and Positivism

Paradigms refer to the way the research is conducted, and accordingly, point to the preferred tool to conduct any piece of research. Paradigms are universally recognised scientific achievements that for a time provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners. The paradigms are incommensurable- in other words; there is no comparison between two paradigms in relation to each other. ‘Since the criteria of judgment depends on the paradigm, to replace a new paradigm with another, does not mean that the former is better than the later’ (Nef 3). Herein, this refers to the ‘challenges occurred when trying to generate some management decisions, which are socially acceptable’ (Kakoyannis & Shindler 6).

Phenomenology is defined as the investigation of the primary structures of the social existence, which is available through the analytical description of intentional consciousness acts. ‘This analysis targets to get meaningful lived world of the daily life or life-world’ (Teale & Currie 100). Phenomenology aims to study a phenomenon and investigate the way it appears from the first person’s point of view. Recently, it has been compared to Edmund Husserl’s philosophy, which is interested in showing itself too as an observable phenomenon. Positivism on the other hand refers to the knowledge focusing on actual experience that provides meaning. Consequently, this knowledge may emanate from the theories being affirmed, validated by strict scientific methods. Logical positivism includes empiricism, which relies on observational evidence.


2.2 Justification of Phenomenological paradigms for this research

One of the criticisms of positivism is that it is a form of universalism. Its processes are involved with physiological, chemical, or physical matters. These processes are related to the actions of persons, as well as physical systems. It represents the human social actions, which often lack physical. Yet, it is a result of social and historical consciousness of man. Positivism does not interest itself with the observer’s role in the real matters and does not focus on the historical aspects. On the other hand, positivism represents social reality. From a conservative standpoint, it assists the status quo, instead of challenging it. The other criticism is directed to the fact ‘that positivism came under religious issues and philosophical influences, confirming that the beginning of truth was in the experiential meaning, but does not finish there’ (Proctor 250).

Consequently, since our research is focused on the idea of the relationship between the Female Police Officers and Gender Discrimination; it needs a model, which includes more than just that. Phenomenological paradigms considered from the point of researcher’s involvement are a great starting point. Apart from the models and theories behind them, they incorporate fieldwork methods. Our research used this methodology.


2.3 Inductive and deductive approach

When conducting a research, the inductive approach focuses on data to understand the research topic and potential hypotheses. The researcher cannot enter the field with any preconceived theory or hypotheses. Yet, he begins his research with data collection, and then develops a way to understand the observed patterns. The aim is to focus on developing a certain theory to be able to assist him in defining the patterns he observed.

On the other hand, the deductive approach follows certain steps, which is opposite in scope to the inductive approach. In this case, the researcher begins his research through reviewing the literatures. ‘In the following steps, he can generate a framework of the research and develop a certain hypothesis. Then he can rest the hypothesis through gathering data’ (Steinberg 52).

In our current research, the focus of deductive approach has been used as our basic methodology.


2.4 Qualitative and Quantitative methods

The qualitative approach is based on gathering data that is interesting in conveying the sense and describing the meaning, instead of drawing statistical inferences. As an example, the interviews and case studies may lack statistical validity. However, they provide depth in their methods of description.

Quantitative approach is keen with providing data, focusing on figures and frequencies instead of just meaning or experiences. ‘Those methods, such as questionnaires and psychometric tests can offer more information with scientific approaches, despite the criticism directed to this method for being free of providing any deep description. Recently, ‘there are many researchers who focus on both approaches’ (Thomas 3).


2-5 Justification of Triangulated approach for the research

Triangulation is a process of building theory from multiple paradigms and layers. Laying the groundwork for triangulation requires defining the subject phenomenon. This initial phase delineates boundaries that both constrain and enable theory building. (Chadwick & Bahr 337).

In this research, the researcher selects the Triangulated approach. Since the basic question, which the research tries to answer, is the relationship between Female Police Officers and Gender Discrimination issue, using this approach will be useful to be able to gather data, figure, numbers, and get information accordingly to answer it. Therefore, three major applications of the research triangulation thinking approach are decision-making, tool development, and research validity. Each of these is considered one of problem-solving ventures.


2.6 Survey – Collecting of Data

The survey is used to collect quantitative information on a given topic. The survey strategy is perceived as authoritative by people in general and is both comparatively easy to explain and to understand. This method is commonly used while conducting statistical studies of populations or marketing research. Thus, the survey may concentrate on points of views or facts, which may depend upon its aims. ‘Most surveys are accompanied by questionnaires to be focused on’ (Touangeau & Rasinski 4). The main advantage of surveys is that it allows for collection of large amounts of data from a sizeable population in an efficient manner. Since the main methodology of this research is quantitative, surveys and questionnaires will be used.


2.7 Open and Closed questionnaires

The questionnaire method is considered as a series of questions directed to certain individuals to discover their points of view about certain topics. Increasingly, questionnaires are used in quantitative marketing research and in social ones. ‘Collecting real and rich information will be the result for the research to focus on’ (Utts 41).

There are two categories of questionnaires used in this paper for research. The first one is the open questionnaire, while the other is closed one.

In the case of open questionnaires, the questions are free of answering options of any predefined types. The respondents are required to provide their own responses freely. These responses are either unstructured or completed with any random word coming to their minds. In the case of closed questionnaires, the responses are limited to a set of predefined answers to be selected by the respondent. Those ‘questions can explain obviously the thoughts of the respondents, such as positively or negatively on a certain issue’ (Upton & Cook 110). The respondents may also get to answer a multi-choice questionnaire. They can be graded on a continuum, such as rating the existence of a service on certain areas using scores from 1 – 10.

With regard to closed questions, the respondents may also answer with a yes or no. The respondents in our research have answered to the closed questions concerning the relationship between Female Police Officers and Gender Discrimination.

The closed questions prepared for the purpose of this research are included in the Appendix 1.

The conduct of the research using quantitative methods along with closed questionnaires has provided much useful information about the main topic.



      Women should not be unanticipated to come across, at the head of efforts to juggle around with the foremost culture’s judgment of the body. Starting from the Virgin Mary to Barbie, women have been offered with models for their personified life that merge asexuality through hyper sexuality in odd and incomprehensible ways. Furthermore, on the condition that societies have been writing this importance on their bodies, women have both made possible and set up ways to destabilize their consequence, occasionally in the matching act. This absurdity is sheds light on in the spaces where feminist presumption, feminist religious studies, as well as women’s music crisscross. Increasingly in this circumstance, the female body does exist not merely, as a locus of repression, however as a kind of presentation spot, where educational opportunities with reference to gender are run through but also, in any case potentially, maneuvered and opposed.

     The differences between male and female officers are noteworthy. Consistent with previous research, these differences reflect both internal and external aspects of police work. From the internal perspective, differences in opinion between male and female officers primarily involved issues of perceived fairness and matters of peer recognition. Female officers, for example, were more likely to indicate that they have seen unfair behavior based on gender with regard to transfers, access to upper management, promotion, and representation in senior positions and in special units.

Women were also more likely than men to report that they had to work harder than others did in order to be perceived as equals within the organization. In addition, some women believe that their colleagues have lower expectations of them, and that some officers have not wanted to collaborate with them because of their gender. The results also indicate that female officers believe they have less respect within the organization. These findings suggest that many female officers perceive unfair treatment based on gender –perhaps a reflection of a historically male-dominated culture within policing. The external aspects involve issues pertaining to family life. Many respondents –both male and female – agreed that family considerations were important reasons for not applying for promotions or transfers. Female officers, however, were more likely than their male peers to report considering delaying or not having a family. This gender difference may be because women must deal with the effect that pregnancy could have on their careers. It is also possible that women officers are more cognizant of potential child-care issues that a career in policing can bring, and thus are more concerned with the support that will be provided to them.

     In policing, we all have many questions, and nobody has all the answers. In any country or culture, successful policing rests on four pillars: cooperation, training, education, and research. Not only in policing itself, but also in training, education, and research, the only real answer is cooperation pooling resources, knowledge, ideas, and experience to arrive to mutually beneficial solutions. Nobody has an exclusive right to train, educate, and research others. We can all learn from each other, assuming that we are all willing to admit that in certain matters others might have more answers, resources, knowledge, or ideas, and assuming that we are all willing to change when change appears reasonable. 



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