Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Policewomen, Sex discrimination against women


Drawing upon eighteen semi-structured, in-depth interviews with women officers from three municipal police departments, I examine the work lives these women experience and how their work lives are influenced by gender. I explore three categories in this analysis: (1) work environment; (2) social relations of work; and (3) occupational identity and role conflict. The analysis is based on in-depth interviews, participant observation, and archival data consisting of documents gathered from all three police departments. The study is guided by Joan Acker' s (1990, 1992a, 1992b) "theory of gendered organizations." I apply Acker's (1990, 1992a, 1992b) theory to determine if the departments are gendered organizations and in what ways they contribute to the unfavorable treatment of women officers.

My analysis reveals the three municipal police departments are, to varying degrees, gendered organizations that treat women officers unfavorably. As gendered organizations, the departments (1) have gendered processes; (2) use gender and sexuality as organizational resources; and (3) contain gendered substructures (Acker 1992b). The gender-biased conditions in the departments are explained using a continuum of gendered organizations. My findings indicate the good ol' boy network, a system of informal social networking among white, older, male police officers, was primarily responsible for the gender bias experienced by women officers. Respondents were often subjected to sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, and unequal promotion practices. In addition, formal organizational policies (i.e., maternity leave policies) marginalized women officers. I conclude my analysis with two recommendations to improve the work lives of women officers: (1) reforming sexual discrimination and sexual harassment training and (2) the emergence of an informal social network through which women can build power in the police organization.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Joe Gorton, Chair


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 119 leaves ; 28 cm)



File Format


Included in

Criminology Commons