History of Women in Law Term Paper

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"By the end of the 1980s many departments had set up detailed procedures to ensure equality and had employed full-time and specialist staff to promote and pursue such policies." (Heidensohn, 1995, p. 60)

The number of females in law enforcement was to increase rapidly and in 1986 about 9 per cent of U.S. officers were female. (Adler 1990) One of the key issues that had to be overcome was the concern about women policemen on patrol. In 1968 "Indianapolis sent two women out on patrol... But the decision of Washington, DC to deploy eighty-six women on patrol in 1972, and to evaluate their performance, is perhaps the best-known example." BLOCH P, and ANDERSON D., et al. 1973)

With these advances of women's rights and the continual evidence of female ability and accomplishment in the field of law enforcement, women were able to apply for all specialist posts in the Unites States. However, there were still reported areas of discrimination and barriers to advancement for female officers'. Heidensohn states: "In my own research, I found that women officers faced barriers to appointments as dog handlers, mounted police, and detectives. (Heidensohn, 1995, p. 63)

3. Conclusion

While there are many areas in which women have achieved recognition in law enforcement, there is still a large amount of ground to cover before full equality will be achieved. This point is clearly empathized in the following quotation.

Nevertheless, there is a huge if shadowy presence, which hangs like a miasma over this whole matter. Since the 1970s, all manner of indicators have suggested fine weather and a fair passage for women in policing. In practice, the ship is still in troubled waters. In article after article, in every interview I conducted, it became clear that the attitudes of male fellow officers were crucially determining factors in policewomen's lives. Harassment and abuse were reported in the interviews I conducted. (Heidensohn, 1995, p. 65)

What has certainly changed is the attitude and the positive and determined demeanor that the modern female law enforcement officers present. Wilma Smith, first female chief of police of Montrose, states: "I don't expect to be treated differently just because I'm a woman. Smith said. This will be just like any other job that I've done." (Baksys G.)

Many reports show evidence the pride and sense of dignity that women show as policewomen and law enforcement officers. This bodes well for the future of women in the service as it is evidenced that women have achieved a sense of place and self-identity that has become a permanent of law enforcement institutions in the United States and elsewhere. Evidence of this can be seen in the views of recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Center for Women & Policing in 2000.

A came here at a time when women weren't expected to do anything but be a nurse, a secretary or get married, but this job has opened a door that I was privileged to walk through to get into the law enforcement arena. "Every day since, I have tried to be the best agent I could," she says. "The job is like a demanding lover. It takes your life, but it is a life well spent, and it gives you a chance to give something back." (Seper, J. 2000) These sentiments express the positive and responsible attitude of the modern female member of law enforcement.


ADLER Z. (1990), a Fairer Cop, U.S. Police Record on Equal Opportunities, Wainwright Trust Study Tour Report No. 1 (Wainwright Trust: London).

BLOCH P., and ANDERSON D., et al. (1973), Policewomen on Patrol: Major Findings: First Report, (Police Foundation: Washington, DC)

Baksys G. Montrose names first woman as police chief. Retrieved 16 December from Daily Gate City. http://www.dailygate.com/articles/2004/11/17/news/news2.txt

FEINMAN C. (1986), Women in the Criminal Justice system (2nd edn., Praeger: New York).

HORNE P. (1980), Women in Law Enforcement (2nd edn., Thomas: Springfield, Ill.).

Bolick, C. (2001). Civil Rights Law Enforcement: A Time for Healing. Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, 24(2), 555. Retrieved December 16, 2004, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com

Haynes, K.A. (1993, September). How Good Are Women Cops. Ebony, 48, 64+. Retrieved December 16, 2004, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com

Heidensohn, F. (1995). Women in Control?: The Role of Women in Law Enforcement. Oxford: Clarendon…[continue]

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