Women in Law Enforcement: Physical Fitness Standards in Recruit Training Programs

Women in Law Enforcement: Physical Fitness Standards in Recruit Training Programs
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Resources
Recorded on: 2019-06-06
Unit 1Slide Deck: Physical Fitness Standards in Recruit Training Programs
Unit 2Workbook: Women in Law Enforcement: Physical Fitness Standards in Recruit Training Programs
Unit 3Recording: Women in Law Enforcement: Physical Fitness Standards and Testing

More than a buzzword, equality produced numerous campaigns that call to provide equal rights for different segments of society. Policing is likewise facing the impact of discrimination as the number of women in the field of law enforcement in the US remained stagnant for the past 20 years, comprising a measly 12% of the workforce.

Today’s guest instructor is one of the people at the forefront of ensuring equal representation between sexes in the field of policing. Captain Ivonne Roman has more than two decades in law enforcement and served in various roles – from Patrol to Police Chief, and specialties – including narcotics, gangs, procedural justice and recruitment just to name a few.

This is the first of the webinar series that aims to understand the issues women experience in policing. On this course, we will take look into the recruitment of women in law enforcement work, the reasons for the low number of women in the field, and what the industry can do to reverse this. Points discussed include:

  • The current status of women in policing where the share of women population stagnated at 12% for 20 years.
  • Identifying the factors contributing to this trend of women in policing supported by researches.
    • The most cited reason as limitations due to physical fitness testing during recruitment.
    • A mostly male-dominated culture of the industry, a negative reputation, and hostile work environment that discourages women and minorities from applying.
    • A recruitment process that screens out women and people of color over specific restrictions.
    • Lack of information on law enforcement career opportunities and advancement opportunities once in.
  • The existing fractured police-community relationship brought about by use of force and police shooting incidents between 2014 to 2016 initiating civil unrest and mass protests especially from communities of color.
  • The efforts undertaken by the Obama Administration in response to these events that aims to foster trust and legitimacy.
  • The research and evidence that points to less use of force complaints and other lawsuits or citizen grievances with policewomen, thereby improving trust and legitimacy.
  • The issue faced in training where physical strength is emphasized and less focus is given on community policing, problem-solving, and interpersonal communication.
  • The legislation, policies, and case law that govern and provide guidelines on the prohibition of discrimination against women in employment through the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, EEOC, Civil Service Commissions, Merit Systems and Consent Decrees.
  • Designing an evidence-based physical fitness test validated to be work-related as seen in the Army’s gender-neutral PT tests.
  • Resources to evaluate physical fitness program and advocate evidence-based policing practices and policies.
  • Questions raised by the webinar audience were about:
    • Utilizing age and gender norm fitness standards for police agencies
    • Standards used for the tests.
    • The areas of law enforcement as a career that draws women in.
    • Common fitness standards for the SWAT.
    • The types of training that must be included for law enforcement officers.
    • Best practices for developing fitness testing standards.
    • Eliminating pre-employment physical fitness requirements
    • ‘Validated’ tests despite disparate outcomes.
    • Addressing the issue on a national level.


Other Webinars in this Series are:


Resources Mentioned during this Webinar


Audience Comments

  • “What was really helpful was to hear about the legal standards for law enforcement fitness tests under Title 7 and EEOC, that it has to be validated as work-related and that it doesn’t produce gender disparity. …We need more research in this area.” –Natalie
  • “It is disappointing to me that this information has been known for 20 years when the National Center for Women in Policing conducted major research on women in policing, use of force, and equality denied, which resulted in its recruiting & retention guide that is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. Thanks!” –Laura
  • “The statistics and court cases were valuable.” –Cynthia
  • “That we as females in the law enforcement field are not alone in our uphill battles on the job, especially when it comes to physical fitness standards….This is a very timely topic.” — Chris
  • “Sadly, after all these years, we as a profession have not done anything about this.” –Catherine



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