Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Criminal Justice Administration
School of Graduate Studies
J. Leonard Fleet
The subject of women in law enforcement is fast becoming a topic of great interest and concern as many law enforcement executives are faced with the problem of promoting women police officers. Women are entering law enforcement in record numbers, however, women filling promotional positions has barely increased over the last 20 years. Law enforcement executives are trying to address the reasons why law enforcement agencies can either retain women nor find women interested in advancing to executive levels. Women police officers share their perceptions and opinions about what directly affects them, personally and professionally, in their law enforcement careers giving insight into what may influence their decisions to advance.
A survey was administered to the attendees of the 1999 Conference for the National Center for Women and Policing (N.C.W.P.), Orlando, Florida. The survey focused on demographic information and specific questions addressing why (or why not) women pursue advancement. The women indicated the primary reasons to seek promotion, not to seek promotion, and the primary factors which would figure prominently in resignation.
Respondents were asked to comment on women seeking promotions, the difficulty of women being promoted in their agency, and what reason would figure prominently if they were to resign. The results of the study were analyzed and compared to the results of the I.A.C.P. survey. The comparison of results proves interesting, especially since the responses were from diametrically opposite sample populations and perspectives. The results of both studies, on key issues, were nearly identical. Women do wish to advance in their law enforcement careers. Although most women seek advancement, a large percentage believe promotion for women is difficult. The difficulty is attributed both to gender bias issues and the small number of women who seek promotion.
Primary reasons which influence women's decision to advance, not advance, or resign from law enforcement are identified. These factors, when compared to the I.A.C.P. study, are recognized by law enforcement executives, thereby corroborating the difficult experiences expressed by women. The focus of this study was to identify the factors which influence women's decisions to advance. What the study actually did was confirm what women experience and what law enforcement agencies deal with are a similar reality for both.
Mitchell-White, Kathleen, "Factors Affecting the Decision to Advance: A Study of Women in Law Enforcement" (1999). Graduate-Level Student Theses, Dissertations, and Portfolios. 7.