Women have accounted for a growing share of U.S. police officers, but the growth has been relatively slow and women remain underrepresented in the field, reports the Pew Research Center. Women sometimes differ sharply from male officers in their views of policing and their experiences, say a new survey conducted by the National Police Research Platform. Women accounted for 12 percent of full-time local police officers in 2013 (the latest data available) – up from 8 percent in 1987, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Women made up even smaller shares in department leadership: About one-in-ten supervisors or managers and just 3 percent of local police chiefs were women in 2013.
The nationwide survey of 7,917 police officers in departments with at least 100 officers finds that many female officers think men in their department are treated better than women when it comes to assignments and promotions. About four in ten female officers say this is the case, compared with just 6 percent of male officers. By contrast, a third of male officers say women are treated better than men when it comes to assignments and promotions in their department – but just 6 percent of women say this is the case. Six in ten male officers and half of female officers say men and women are treated about the same. There is a significant gender gap in attitudes on policing, with female officers less likely than male counterparts to agree that aggressive tactics are sometimes necessary. Among female officers, 48 percent agree that it is more useful to be aggressive than to be courteous in certain parts of the city, compared with 58 percent of male officers.