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Women Correctional Officers in the California Department of Corrections

NCJ Number
Herbert Holeman Ph.D.; B. J. Krepps-Hess Ph.D.
Date Published
273 pages
A study of female correctional officers in California’s State institutions for male felons examined these officers’ demographic characteristics, their ability to perform the job, and the attitudes of staff and inmates toward them.
Information came from three sources: (1) the personnel records of all 386 female fulltime correctional officers in the 11 institutions for men; (2) a comparison of job performance and related issues among 168 male and 168 female correctional officers; and (3) a questionnaire survey of 182 male officers, 59 female officers, and 400 male inmates. Results revealed that female correctional officers were more likely than males to be an ethnic minority, were younger, were less likely to be married, and were equally likely to have dependent children. Females also differed in their educational and career experiences before becoming correctional officers. A substantial majority of inmates felt that the presence of women officers did not invade their privacy. However, the topic of greatest concern in their written comments was the presence of women in housing, toilet, and shower facilities. The male and female officers were similar in job performance, numbers of commendations and reprimands received, and use of sick leave. However, females were more likely than males to be assigned to positions with less inmate contact. In addition, the agency provided little formal training to orient staff to a sexually integrated work setting. Moreover, significant resistance existed among the male officers to the presence of female officers; male officers also tended to perceive more resistance to female officers than actually exists. The analysis concluded that gender is not a bona fide occupational qualification for employment as a correctional officer in an institution for men. Tables, appended instruments and background information, and 61 references