Breaking Barriers and Blazing a Path: Growing Women Professionals in Law Enforcement

Breaking Barriers and Blazing a Path Growing Women Professionals in Law Enforcement
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2024-07-09
Unit 1 Presentation Materials: Breaking Barriers and Blazing a Path: Growing Women Professionals in Law Enforcement
Unit 2 Transcript: Breaking Barriers and Blazing a Path: Growing Women Professionals in Law Enforcement
Unit 3 Workbook: Breaking Barriers and Blazing a Path: Growing Women Professionals in Law Enforcement
Unit 4 Recording: Breaking Barriers and Blazing a Path: Growing Women Professionals in Law Enforcement

As of the 2018 iteration of the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, women comprise only 18% of recruit classes, 13% of sworn officers, 10% of first-line supervisors, and 3% of executive roles. The 30×30 Initiative aims to improve these, shooting for 30% representation by 2030. Beyond the numbers, its goal is to advance the representation and experiences of women in policing. Using evidence-based approaches, the goal is anchored with data pointing to how women in policing can significantly improve the profession.

Leading this discussion are Tanya Meisenholder and Maureen “Mo” McGough. Tanya has 30 years of policing experience and is the Director of Gender Equity for the Policing Project at the New York University School of Law where she guides the implementation of the 30×30 initiative. Meanwhile, Mo is the co-founder of the 30×30 Initiative and is the Executive Director of the Center for Excellence in Policing and Public Safety at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Points they tackled in their presentation covered:

  • The importance of gender equity in improving public safety given the current state of policing.
  • The 30×30 Initiative
    • Its composition, the rationale behind the 30% representation, and the history, circumstances, conversations and research that led to its inception.
    • The initiative’s goal to remove inherent biases, meet the unique needs of women, and transform the culture to be inclusive within the profession.
    • Debunking misconceptions about the 30×30 initiative as it relates to tokenism, favoritism, gender stereotypes, standards, and the role of men in the movement.
    • What the initiative is about – providing equitable access to qualified women and allowing them to thrive within the policing profession by providing them with their needs and support.
  • The value of women in policing in terms of…
    • Preventing, mitigating, and effectively addressing crimes with reduced use of excessive force.
    • Fostering police legitimacy by building trust and engaging the community.
    • Reducing legal and operational costs.
    • Enhancing recruitment and retention, affecting beneficial policy changes, supporting officer wellness, and decreasing discrimination and harassment.
    • Shaping the culture by building resiliency and promoting diversity and inclusion.
  • Statistics that demonstrate how women make up a small percentage of recruit classes, sworn officers, and leadership roles, and the specific barriers to greater representation of women in policing.
  • The National Listening Sessions conducted as a part of the 30×30 initiative and the key players that allowed it to happen.
  • Insights gleaned from the national listening sessions that emphasize the variety of women’s experience in law enforcement with common issues around themes of…
    • Support needed surrounding parenthood and childcare.
    • Considerations and accommodation in terms of training, equipment, and uniforms.
    • Attitudes, behavior, and culture that look at women’s need for conformity; scarcity and competition; latitude for mistakes and being held to higher standards; disrespect, harassment and lack of accountability; and isolation and lack of support.
  • 30×30 So Far
    • The participating agencies, professional organizations, and private partners collaborating to make it possible.
    • Participation requirements for agencies and the checks and balances and accountability measures between 30×30 and the participating agencies.
    • Its focus areas in terms of recruitment and retention; data and reporting; professional development, support services and training; and policies that support women’s unique needs.
    • The impact of the initiative at the agency, state, and federal level as it relates to policies and legislation; facilities and accommodation; recruitment and assessments; and mentoring and networking.


Questions from the webinar participants are about:

  • The tendency for women leaders to serve less time in high-level roles.
  • 30×30’s presence in in-person conferences.
  • Including non-sworn staff as well as other branches of the criminal justice profession in the initiative.
  • Data collection and reporting of the results of the 30×30 Initiative.


Resources and Handouts



Audience Comments

  • “Great positive presenters and very motivating.”
  • “The problems and validation of knowing other women go through what you go through in law enforcement all over the country was priceless!!”
  • “It was really gratifying to learn that women are working to recruit more females into law enforcement and that they are working to educate others about this important topic.”
  • “Very informative and a topic that is needed across careers in law enforcement and corrections.”
  • “This was a great presentation. Glad to hear some local law enforcement agencies mentioned.”
  • “The content of empowering women and agencies to have genuine leaders, not just “token” selections was my favorite. Also, the efforts of requirements that are actually testing that part of the job. Great presentation.”



While gender equity in and of itself is important, advancing women in policing also shows promise for improving public safety outcomes and addressing some of policing’s persistent challenges.

More than 200 agencies-ranging in size from major metropolitan police departments to smaller, rural agencies-have taken the 30×30 Pledge, a series of low- and no-cost actions policing agencies can take to improve the representation and experiences of women in law enforcement. The activities help policing agencies assess the current state of a department with regard to gender equity, identify factors that may be driving any disparities, and develop and implement strategies and solutions to eliminate barriers. These actions address recruitment, assessment, hiring, retention, promotion, and agency culture. Learn more by


Additional Resources
5 days ago
After the Webinar: Breaking Barriers, Blazing a Path – Growing Women Law Enforcement Professionals. Q&A with the Presenters
Webinar Presenters Maureen McGough and Dr. Tanya Meisenholder answered a number of your questions af […]
1 year ago
Data about Women Officers from Maureen McGough
Maureen McGough shared data and findings during the panel discussion, Building a Culture of Inclusio […]
1 year ago
Building a Culture of Inclusion in Policing: A Case for 30×30
The 30x30 Initiative is a program aimed at increasing the representation of women in law enforcement […]
1 year ago
Thoughts on Inclusiveness from Ken Clary
Ken Clary shared a number of great reminders during his webinar, "Creating a Culture of Inclusivenes […]
1 year ago
Creating Positive Change: An Approach to Leadership in Tumultuous Times
Making changes isn’t the easiest thing to do as an individual, moreso for organizations. But when […]