An Examination of Eight Factors Influencing Women's Retention in Federal Law Enforcement
Type of Degreedissertation
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Using a sample of 168 sworn female federal law enforcement officers with arrest and firearm authority and in-depth interviews with 20 of these women, this study examines eight factors that may or may not influence women's decision to remain in federal law enforcement. These factors include pervasive negative attitudes from male colleagues, negative law enforcement work culture, perceived glass ceiling to promotions, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination, lack of high-ranking female role models, and lack of pregnancy-friendly policies and family-friendly policies. Five of the eight factors—pervasive negative attitudes from male colleagues, negative law enforcement work culture, perceived glass ceiling to promotions, sexual discrimination, and lack of high-ranking female role models—are related to women’s departure from federal law enforcement in bivariate analysis. Two of the eight factors—pervasive negative attitudes from male colleagues and a perceived glass ceiling to promotions—are related to women’s departure in federal law enforcement in multivariate analysis using the ordinary least squares method. In addition, two factors—number of high-ranking female role models and the number of permanent relocations—are related to women’s departure in the near future from federal law enforcement in multivariate analysis using logistic regression. The interviews uncover additional challenges women face in federal law enforcement, including coping strategies, reasons why they stay despite the challenges, explanations for women’s underrepresentation in this field, and suggestions for retaining more women in federal law enforcement. Finally, implications for theory and direction for future research are also discussed.