What types of discrimination do women experience when working in the criminal justice field?
Dr. Colby Valentine
CJ 113: Introduction to Criminal Justice
November 30, 2018
Morash, M., & Haarr, R. N. (2012). Doing, Redoing, And Undoing Gender: Variation In Gender Identities Of Women Working As Police Officers. Feminist Criminology, 7(1), 3–23.
The main purpose of the article is to examine the discrimination that women face in different types of criminal justice fields, such as policing. One of the key questions that is being addressed is whether or not gender influences the way women are treated in these fields or influences their ability to get higher in rank. The authors also seek to understand if the characteristics that women have interferes with their job. The researcher asked a variety of women from different ranks and ethnicities (i.e., eight White, five African American, five Latina, and three Asian women). After asking them about their ranks, they created a sort of table to show how many women of different ethnicities have moved up in their ranks. Then they interviewed them on how they are treated in their job, and if being a women has interfered with them completing their tasks as police officers. The authors found that qualities that most women have or are associated with allow them to do well in such a way that helps many. Most have noticed that their police work in some scenarios have nothing to do with the idea of sex or gender categories. However, most women of color and lower economic status are the ones who are more likely to experience these gender differences. One weakness of the study was that the authors did not research enough women from different areas where there might be more discrimination against women, and more restrictions for them. The authors only interviewed women who mostly ignored the stereotypes that were given to them, and most of them believed that being a women helped them in their job. For future research it is important to examine a vast majority of women of different race, economic status and if women officers are lacking the ability to do good police work.
Shelley, T. O., Morabito, M. S., & Tobin-Gurley, J. (2011). Gendered institutions and gender roles: understanding the experiences of women in policing. Criminal Justice Studies, 24(4), 351–367.
The main purpose of this article is to help others better understand the experiences that women face in policing. The point that the authors portray is that police agencies should not have gender inequalities between male and females. The research conducted was based on a theory that had already been implemented on the gender inequalities that happen in most policing agencies. The theory is called Acker’s theory of gendered institutions which contains four gendered processes called, legitimization of hegemonic masculinity meaning certain characteristics that are given to men that are not necessarily male traits, control and segregation, doing gender and gendered personas. Combining all the research discussed in the article, most police agencies report that no women in their departments hold a high-level position. Gender inequality can be seen throughout most police agencies. Society expects women to be nicer and males to be the nastier ones. This inequality comes from the perception that the police agencies give to the society which ultimately leads to this misconceptions of how women are supposed to act in these rough police agencies. The authors state that police agencies should uphold the law, avoid the spread of inequality throughout many police agencies, and to model the importance of gender equality for the public and other social institutions. One weakness of the study that was found was that the authors only used research based on one person who discussed this in his research. For future research, it is important to investigate inequalities in the workplace because much of society’s inequalities rest in such organizations. Also, Acker’s theory should be utilized in future research to better explain all of the aspects of the delayed recruitment, retaining, and advancement of women in policing.
Yu, H. H. (2015). An Examination of Women in Federal Law Enforcement: An Exploratory Analysis of the Challenges They Face in the Work Environment. Feminist Criminology, 10(3), 259–278.
The main purpose of the article is to present the discrimination and struggles that many women face in law enforcement on a daily basis. The point that the author portrays is how women are capable of doing these stressful jobs, however, if they are withheld from achieving their true potential, they will not be able to go higher up in rank. The research conducted are based on the comments made from women who attended the annual Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) Leadership Training Conference in 2011. During the conference, welcome folders were given out containing a survey that asked questions about the issues that women face in federal law enforcement. Combing all the surveys together, researchers have found that most women who took this survey were Caucasian, married, have children, and identify the biggest barrier for women in federal law enforcement is the lack of respect from male colleagues. Studies that have been conducted from this research suggest that male officers believe that women cannot handle the emotional and physical stress of the job. This leads to the discrimination of women because U.S police departments were created in the mid-19th century where most people viewed law enforcement as a traditionally male occupation because of the dangers that come with the job. The author hopes that the research conducted would open the minds of many federal agencies and to increase the participation of women in these organizations. One weakness of the study was that the author only interviewed the women who attended the conference, not from other federal agencies that most likely have more discrimination. Also, most of the women could have written bias responses to the survey. For future research it is important to ask the questions of why most females left other agencies to go to a new one. Do they support women in this field? These are the questions that want to be researched further because the federal government employs law enforcement personnel in many of their job series, however the percentage of women who are hired are significantly less than of males who are appointed.
Summary of Literature
In several criminal justice agencies there has been numerous accounts of gender inequalities and discrimination between males and females. Most discrimination occurring are towards females because most policing agencies are stressful, and most males feel that women would not be able to handle these jobs emotionally and physically. Research on this topic was conducted to further investigate these inequalities in male-dominated police agencies. Ultimately, males and their points of view on women are the leading impact of why there are gender inequalities and discrimination.
Shelley, Morabito, and Tobin-Gurley (2011) conducted their research by using Aker’s theory of gendered institutions. Using this theory, there are four gendered processes that forces women to be opposed in working in these male-dominating agencies. The four are, legitimize hegemonic masculinity which means there are certain characteristics that are given to men that are not necessarily male traits, control and segregation, doing gender and gendered personas. With these gendered processes studies have shown that the images that are portrayed by the police agencies deter society’s mindset that only males are supposed to work in a policing agency and not women because they are fragile; the hierarchy constructed in police agencies are male dominated, not allowing women to advance in their ranks but are expected to accept a subordinated role within the agency; and in certain institutions women are forced to adopt behavioral strategies to circumnavigate and shield the discrimination they receive based on their gender. However, there is considerable evidence of a belief that police work is an inappropriate job for women because most men and women have essentially different characteristics and only men’s characteristics support effective police work (Morash and Haarr, 2012).
Morash and Haarr (2012) has also found evidence that there is discrimination between women and men, however it is due to the different characteristics that make police work an inappropriate job for women. The research has revealed that effective policing with crime fighting must be masculine because of the aggression and violence that can occur. Women do not have these qualities, men have said that women have more of a feminine way of acting about their police work. Having this sort of discrimination towards the characteristics between men and women can affect women’s opportunities and the expectations of them with other people. It can also limit the willingness and resources of individuals to actively create new forms of femininity if they have that mindset of femininity being known as weak. However, most women say that the lack of respect from male colleagues is the biggest barrier for women in federal law enforcement (Yu, 2015).
Yu (2015) created a survey to hand out to all the police women who attended the annual Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) Leadership Training Conference in 2011. Once the research was conducted on all the survey’s, she found that on top of the lack of respect from male colleagues, the negative attitudes make it problematic for women to concentrate on performing the job at hand which leads to a more harmful situation such as discrimination and harassment. The progression of going higher up in rank is substantially slow for many women as well. This means that most women cannot advance higher in their position because they are female. It is in her best interest that federal agencies can put aside this gender inequality and increase the participation of women in these organizations because they too can make a difference in these agencies.
In conclusion, discrimination and gender inequalities continue to happen throughout many federal agencies. Through this research, many could say there could be news ways of steering clear of this ongoing harassment towards women in these types of criminal justice fields such as, changing the way society view women, changing the attitude male colleagues have against women, and changing the processing system of recruits who are female. Shifting society’s view on women could seriously transform the criminal justice fields allowing more women to participate.