Step Up to Law Enforcement: A Successful Strategy for Recruiting Women into the Law Enforcement Profession

Many police agencies have begun to target women and/or minorities specifically in their recruitment efforts. In spite of these heightened recruitment efforts, the wide range of job openings, and competitive compensation packages, the number of women entering protective services—and policing in particular—has not increased substantially over the past two decades.

According to Equality Denied: The Status of Women in Policing, 2001, a report by the National Center for Women and Policing, women accounted for only 12.7 percent of all sworn law enforcement positions in large agencies (those with 100 or more sworn personnel) in 2001—a figure that is less than four percentage points higher than in 1990, when women comprised 9 percent of all sworn officers. In small and rural agencies (those with fewer than 100 sworn personnel), women comprise an even smaller number—8.1 percent—of all sworn personnel. When those figures are combined in a weighted estimate, they indicate that women represent only 11.2 percent of all sworn law enforcement personnel in the United States—dramatically less than the participation of women in the whole labor force, estimated at 46.5 percent.