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Are There Fewer Women in Policing?

June 2, 2009

To start off our new blog series on Women in Policing, we will first take a look at the demographic among police personnel in the US and Canada.

It seems that the numbers of women in policing in the United States are dropping from their relatively low numbers in the first place. A sad commentary on the issues that face all forces across the States, as women have a much more even handed approach to dealing with conflict on the job with people in tense situations.

Even though the stats for the US look to be a bit on the dismal side, happily the same cannot be said for Canada. Statistics Canada figures reported that women accounted for over 18 percent of all cops in Canada as of May 2008 or 12,200 female officers. In the US that figure sits a bit shy of 12 percent and is rapidly falling.

Another thing to note about the numbers is that in Canada they have been increasing steadily every year. The reverse is true for US police forces. What makes the yearly increases interesting for Canadians is that while female recruits sit at the 18 per cent mark and higher, the number of male recruits only rose roughly one per cent. While there are no hard and fast reasons for the differences, one may only speculate about why the number of men seems to be on the decline.

Despite the increase in numbers for female recruits, there still remains many problems for them to deal with, including uneven hiring practices, unrealistic expectations for them during physical training and recruitment policies in place since Hector was a pup. Some of the police departments in Canada definitely need to update their recruiting, hiring and training manuals.

Women have been in policing careers since the 1960’s and their role has increasingly expanded over the intervening years. It’s definitely a LONG way from the role women first played in policing in 1845 when they were referred to as “matrons.” Now the women in uniform have as much of an active role to play in all forms of policing, including the role of Commander, as men do.

While women’s attitudes have changed towards policing, can the same be said of men’s attitudes? Well, in the 21st century many men have grown up with sisters and regard them as equals. That has made some differences in how they are looked at in the academy. However, the attitude that “I can give as good as I get,” sometimes meets a brick wall when it comes to the rigours of physical training.

Physically, or rather anatomically speaking, females do have a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to upper body strength. This isn’t to say they aren’t able to work on it and keep up, as many women do. It just happens to be one of those things that doesn’t have to do with attitude, book learning, mental abilities or anything else other than that is just the way women are made.

This is something many female recruits work long and hard to overcome, and succeed. Think about this as you make your way through the training process. Think about your goal and you will find a way to attain it. We know that, and we have every confidence in you at Police Ready.

Police Ready is here to help you, guide you, answer your questions and give you hints and tips to make your journey easier. The only thing you need to do, and you are already doing it, is join us and work side-by-side to be the best police officer you can be.

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