Gender equity in Australian and New Zealand policing: a five-year review
Prenzler, Tim and Fleming, Jenny and King, Amanda, Gender equity in Australian and New Zealand policing: a five-year review, International Journal of Police Science and Management, 12, (4) pp. 584-595. ISSN 1461-3557 (2010) [Refereed Article]
This paper examines the impact of equity measures in Australian and New Zealand policing, involving nine police departments, from 2003/4 to 2007/8. The findings were mixed. Overall, the number of sworn female officers in both countries continued to trend slowly upwards, with an average of 26.6 per cent in Australia and 17.1 per cent in New Zealand in 2007/8. However, recruit numbers appeared to have peaked around 33 per cent and were in decline in most departments where data were available. Women continued to move up the ranks in all departments, but there were still very few women in senior ranks. Although women were not separating at a higher rate than men, they were more likely than men to resign. While more positive than earlier appraisals of equity in Australia, the findings continue to reflect inadequate data collection that would address long-term inequity issues. The labour force participation rate of women in Australia has increased significantly over the last few decades. However, women are not necessarily focusing on traditional career paths but rather see employment opportunities as one of many options that include family and lifestyle balance. Nevertheless, it is argued here that police organisations should remain committed to gender equity. Affirmative action and other gender equity strategies are considered necessary to encourage greater participation by women, for the benefits to women of a policing career and for the wider good of the community and police organisations themselves. Better diagnostic data and visible commitment are required to support this objective.