Women and Men Police Officers: Status, Gender, and Personality

Women and Men Police Officers: Status, Gender, and Personality

Women and Men Police Officers: Status, Gender, and Personality

Women and Men Police Officers: Status, Gender, and Personality

Synopsis

Gerber challenges traditional beliefs about gender and develops a new model for understanding gender--the status model of gender stereotyping. The book focuses on how expectations about status and gender impact police officers who work together as partners. Her study includes same-sex police partnerships as well as partnerships in which a woman works with a man.

Excerpt

When I started the research on which this book is based, I was concerned about the problems women officers have working in the highly masculine-typed field of policing. I wanted to understand better the difficulties they face in being accepted as fully competent police officers. Because women police officers are often perceived as having different personality traits from male officers—as being more accommodating and more concerned about others’ feelings—many people question whether women could be assertive enough to enforce the law effectively.

My earlier research on gender stereotyping had suggested that women may appear to be more accommodating than men because they have less power and lower status. If so, then women police officers who have equal status with male officers would be seen as equally self-assertive—and presumably as equally competent in enforcing the law.

The beliefs about male and female police officers’ personality traits are similar to stereotypes that are held within the larger society in which men are viewed as assertive or “instrumental” and women are seen as accommodating or “expressive.” These characteristics, which reflect stereotypes about the two sexes, are known as the “gender-stereotyped personality traits.”

The relationship between police partners is particularly relevant to studying whether the so-called gender-stereotyped traits relate to status. Because women police officers generally have the lower status when they work with a male partner, I expected that they would be

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