Last year, after nearly 25 years on the force, Elizabeth Bondurant she was named the first female police chief in Plainsboro, N.J. The New York Times says she is following a trail blazed by Lola Baldwin, the first U.S. female police officer, who was hired in Portland, Or., April 1, 1908. After a century, the number of women serving as officers and police chiefs is still low. Nationwide, women make up 14 percent of all officers. Only 1 percent of all police chiefs are female.
A new wave of female police chiefs are being more readily accepted into top jobs, by their departments and by the public. “We now have women chiefs in major cities in this country, so it's no longer quite as startling to see women in these jobs as it was 10 years ago,” said Dorothy Moses Schulz of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the author of “Breaking the Brass Ceiling: Women Police Chiefs and Their Paths to the Top.” Says Schulz: “Before, women felt they had to overcompensate to prove that they were competent as they tried to move up the ranks. Now, women are being taken seriously when they do compete for these jobs.” While women are chiefs in Detroit, San Francisco and, Washington, D.C., most small and rural agencies do not have any women in top command positions.