Women in Law Enforcement: Promotion and Assignment

Women in Law Enforcement: Promotion and Assignment
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2019-07-24
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Women in Law Enforcement: Promotion and Assignment
Unit 2 Workbook: Women in Law Enforcement Promotion and Assignment
Unit 3 Recording: Women in Law Enforcement, Promotion and Assignment
  • Studies show that there is a very evident lack of representation of women in policing especially in leadership positions. Further, the lack of literature and researches surrounding the topic of female representation in law enforcement paints a bleak picture thus far. On this session, two female trailblazers in law enforcement unpacks the realities that women face in the field when it comes to advancing their careers and what can be done to improve this.Lieutenant Rachel Tolber served Redlands, California for 20 years where she’s held various positions and is currently assigned to the Patrol Services Bureau. She holds Master’s Degrees in Criminology, Law and Society, and Applied Criminology and is a current National Institute of Justice LEADS scholar. Meanwhile, Dr. Natalie Todak is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Alabama. She does research in collaboration with police agencies to evaluate programming, improve effectiveness, and foster positive community relationships. Her current research is on the recruitment, retention, promotion, and impact of women and minorities in law enforcement.

    Things they tackled on this webinar include:

    • The lack of resources on the topic of women in policing.
    • How gender diversity is important in police leadership in improving women’s experiences in law enforcement, the service they render to their respective communities, and the legitimacy of the agency as a whole.
    • Statistics that paint a picture of the apparent underrepresentation of women in law enforcement, more so in positions of leadership.
      • Rachel Tolber’s experience in her tenure with Redlands PD that is congruent with the statistics.
    • The most common and even practical reasons why women decide against running for promotion.
    • Why affirmative action programs are only effective for hiring but not as much when it comes to promotions.
    • Encouraging gender diversity in the higher ranks of law enforcement by providing organizational support so they meet the tenure requirements for promotion and that doing so wouldn’t make their personal, social and professional life suffer.
    • Anecdotes on women’s involvement with the promotional process that illustrates why they are discouraged from participating in it.
    • Women’s experience as police leaders and the difficulties and resistance they encounter.
    • Recommendations
      • For agencies to on how to implement gender diversity in leadership, assess women’s representation, understand the challenges women face, and acknowledge the benefits of having women across all levels.
      • To update existing research data and literature to better understand the conditions, challenges and impact of women in law enforcement.
    • Natalie and Rachel clarified questions related to:
      • At what phase from training/hiring to promotion women are being screened out from advancing in their careers.
      • Women’s management styles.
      • The results of the research summit.
      • The challenges brought about by women juggling their career and home life.
      • The limitations of the existing testing process.
      • Links between women in military and in law enforcement.
      • Comparing men and women’s propensity to take risk and grab opportunities.
      • Important factors in the promotion process.
      • Assignments that women must fulfill before seeking promotion.


Mentioned during this Webinar


Audience Comments

  • “Great conversations-more opportunity for those on to connect in some platform — sounds like a lot of women working to research, deploy or improve this…find a way to connect us all.” — Brandy
  • “I am not alone, we need more females in leadership positions. That it is a challenge, the more training, education, and preparation we can do seem to be beneficial.” — Carrie
  • “It was a nice balance of experience and academics to address concerns many agencies have. I got some tangible take a ways. The content was concise, professional and contemporary.” — Diana
  • “As a male, and retired police officer I found this research fascinating. I can say that I witnessed some of things mentioned during the webinar in my own agency. During my tenure, there were no more than 3 women active at any one time. I saw one leave to raise a family, another who had no interested in promotion, another who has risen to be a deputy chief, one who last year took her life, and two presently on the job as officers both with military backgrounds. Great job, Kudos to Rachel and Natalie.” — Frank
  • “Very well done. I sent the information to all the female agents I work with around the state.” — Larry




The National Institute of Justice started the LEADS Scholars program in 2014 out of a desire to support and develop the data and science skills of the next generation of law enforcement leadership in America. One byproduct of the LEADS program, which has enrolled 50 mid-career officers so far, was a Research Summit on Women in Policing, held in December 2018. The summit was designed to take stock of existing knowledge about the experiences of women in policing, and to identify opportunities, challenges, and research gaps affecting more successful inclusion of women in American law enforcement. This “Women in Law Enforcement” webinar series is one vehicle for sharing the kind of information that was presented during the summit.

Additional Resources
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