This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Be happy, be safe: International Women's Day

I would like use this short blog to highlight the progress of women within the policing services around the world

There is a useful and interesting study from Queensland, Australia: The police role: studies of male and female police (1996). This is research from nearly 20 years ago. Here are a few choice quotes:
  • Many observers believe that men and women bring to policing differences in attitude, values and perceptions that influence the way they do their work...
  • Taken together, these studies reveal that few differences between males and females, predicted on the basis of sex role stereotypes actually exist between men and women in the Queensland Police Service
  • Differences between males and females that did emerge are more likely to reflect pressures existing within the male dominated culture of policing. This is particularly so, for example, in the case of communication between suoeriors and subordinates where the superior officer is female, in the erosion of authority held by superior female officers and in the way in which superior female abilities, such as the ability to respond to and identify the emotional content of messages sent by others can be eroded by role demands.
  • The entrenched machismo culture of policing has been identified time and again as instrumental in maintaining attitudes which are cynical, sexist, racist and corrupt.
Contrast this with a study from last year: The status of women police officers: An international review. Here are some selected quotes:
  • On current projections, any prospect of numerical gender equity appears to have been lost, with the overall proportion of sworn female officers likely to plateau around 30%, at best, in many departments over the next decade.
  • Research shows that police supervisors have a key discretionary role in supporting or undermining flexible employment options. However, there are also indications that many women police who take up the option of maternity leave often elect not to return to work
  • Despite a strong case for much greater female participation in policing, basic data on women’s progress are often lacking, and there is an apparent large gap in many departments between positive gender policies and less-than-optimal integration strategies. 
  • Despite this relatively gloomy picture, available data indicate enormous improvements in the status of women police in numerous departments in the past few decades. 
It would appear that there has been some good progress, internationally, but there is still a long (long) way to go overall.

The question remains: what more needs to be done to ensure that the UK police services achieve the optimal blend and balance of women & men - officers and staff? 

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