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History of Women in the Police Force

Essay by   •  October 30, 2010  •  Essay  •  3,477 Words (14 Pages)  •  1,764 Views

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Introduction

Women have come a long way in the area of the workforce in the past one hundred years. If you were to look back one hundred years ago, you would never see a woman working outside of the home. Society had the idea that a woman's place was in the home cooking, cleaning, reproducing and care giving. They had the idea that there was no place for her in the workforce because that was a place for only men. Yes, it is true that some people may still have this view today but a lot of things have changed over the years. Women are no longer only restricted to working in the home doing domestic chores. However, this did not come easily but rather after many years of fighting to get the same rights as men. Slowly women started to enter the workforce fulfilling roles such as secretaries and nurses. It was jobs like these that were viewed as woman's jobs and you would never see a woman doctor, fireman or police officer. Women were still being marginalized into a certain category of jobs. However, women continued their fight and today they fulfill such roles as doctors, fireman and police officers. In this essay, we will focus on the entry of women into the police force. We will not only look at what it took for women to get into the police force but also what types of roles they play in the police force today. In addition, we will look at what roles women hope to play in the police force in the future. By doing this we hope to show you how far women have come in the area of police work in the past one hundred years and how far they will still have to go.

History of Women In The Police Force

In the past, policing and women were never associated with each other. Policing was a male dominated profession which women were not welcomed to join. However, these biases and unfair beliefs that women were not welcomed in the police force began to change slowly. In the nineteen tens and twenties woman began to be employed by the police forces. Women's social groups began to lobby that women should be able to be employed by police forces. With all of the support groups that women were involved in, pressure began to mount for there to be a representation of women in male dominated police forces.

The first women police officer in Canada was sworn in the Vancouver police force in 1912. "1912: Vancouver - Mrs. Lurancy Harris and Miss Miller were sworn in as 4th class constables" (LeBeuf & McLean, 38). When a woman became a police officer during this time era, they were usually given special cases that were seen fit to be handled by women police officers. Women were seen as being more able to handle situations that dealt with children and other women because it was believed that men were unable to deal with emotional situations as well as women. " Women were argued to be uniquely qualified to deal with cases involving women and children; they were likewise skilled at defusing family fights and doing undercover work on vice squads that called for women" (Lunneborg, 5). Women were put into these special units that dealt with mainly women and children because women were not seen mature enough to handle the duties that male officers were subject to.

Women were very discriminated against and had only a small number of representation in police forces. Even though there were women police officers, they were not seen as real officers. Most of the woman hired by police agencies were performing traditional women's jobs including secretarial work or as specialist in juveniles." (Cohn.pg.188) These were the main role that women police officers were historically given. However this has changed over the years.

It was not until after world war two that women began to be hired by police departments voluntarily. Women had proven that they could handle themselves in situations that dealt with high stress level. "World war two provided convincing evidence that women were valuable auxiliaries within all-male organizations." (LeBeuf & McLean, 41) This was a start in their quest for equality and fairness in a male dominated police force but it was far from enough. After world war two women did receive some recognition that they were able to perform as an officer in a police department. However, attitudes stayed the same as they had always been. In the seventies a study was conducted by the police federation that stated these findings.

"The major reason that the role of women in

policing had traditionally been so limited was

because most of the men in control of police

departments assume that policing is a man's

job and that women should be used only in

those few positions that obviously require a

woman-such as work with juveniles."

(Cohn.pg.189)

These attitudes kept women from becoming police officers because the obstacles were very hard for them to overcome. Policing has been a male dominated profession that was still run by males. Therefore, if they wanted to be able to enter the police force and slowly work their way to the top, they had to do it under male authority. This was very hard because they had to get hired by a male and if this male officer did not feel like he wanted to hire a woman he did not have to. Thus, the odds were somewhat against them because they were trying to work their way into a profession that was run and dominated by males. It is because of this that polices were implemented which made police forces higher a certain amount of women each year.

In the eighties and early nineties, female representation in police forces across Canada has risen. "What the statistics all agree on, however, is that the proportion of women in police department keep rising" (Lunneborg. pg. 251). With the rise of female employment in police forces risen it seems that female are becoming accepted into the policing world. However, that is not what is occurring in police forces that have female officers. Stereotypes and biases are still held against female officers that date back to the start of the century. " Female officers had to fight not only crime and criminal activity, but also the negative attitudes and the stereotypes directed at women in general and female police officers in particular (Hernandez, Dreifus. pg. 42). Even though female employment rates are climbing in Canadian police forces, female are still stigma with century old stereotypes and biases.

Women Policing in The Present Day & The Problems

Today, many jobs in

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