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Comparative Models of Policing and the Role of Women Officers

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science and Management Volume: 1 Issue: 3 Dated: December 1998 Pages: 215-225
F Heidensohn
Date Published
11 pages
This paper comparatively explores the key features of the role of women in policing, focusing on the English-speaking nations of Australia, Britain, and the United States, although referring to other countries in context.
Until the 1970s, women were represented in only small numbers in police agencies worldwide and not at all in some. Furthermore, and perhaps as a consequence, they were not featured in studies of comparative policing until recently. Although there are still only a few of these studies, they are increasing. It is possible to outline common features of the development of women's role in law enforcement. These common features include the origins of women's entry into policing, their policing roles, their experience of resistance from the male-dominated police subculture, the parallel stages of development in the roles of policewomen in various countries throughout the world, and the impact of external events. After discussing each of these common features in the United States, Australia, and Great Britain, this paper reviews strategies at the national (State or Federal), service or agency, and individual levels for increasing the hiring and promotion of women within policing. Strategies at the national level range from formal programs of equal opportunities legislation, such as in the United States, that are also backed both by powerful sanctions, such as fines or withholdings, and being a culture in which litigation in the pursuit of citizens' rights is common and valued. In its fullest form, this has been the most effective system for achieving results in recruiting and advancing female officers. At the service or agency level, a whole range of approaches can be used to promote equal opportunities, including equal-opportunity statements and staff, changes to entry rules, promotion, deployment, and training. At the individual level, women police officers can construct and develop their own roles, albeit within clear historic and occupational constraints. 1 figure and 40 references


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