Conflicts and Challenges of Gender in the Workplace: The Police Service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

  • Janet Astley
Part of the Palgrave Explorations in Workplace Stigma book series (PAEWS)


The chapter offers a unique insight into the challenges faced by female police officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where organisational culture, customs and practice, policies, systems and processes can negatively impact upon the opportunities for development and progression based upon gender. Socially constructed paradigms relating to the acceptance or rejection of a gender neutral society equally exert pressures that are not so overtly evident in other occupations. This work explores how the importance of establishing strong networks and mentors can enable women in policing to attain success and recognition. The under-representation of senior women in the service continues to be problematic with women citing a lack of self-efficacy combined with poor access to mentors resulting in them either facing isolation as their careers progress or an apathetic approach to promotion. Although there have been recent attempts by policy makers and government to address the under-representation of women entering the service, unless a structured and sustainable mentoring scheme is adopted to enable women to gain promotion within it, the service will continue to disadvantage females disproportionately.


  1. Archbold, C.A., and D. Moses Schulz. 2008. Making rank. The lingering effects of Tokenism on female police officers’ promotion aspirations. Police Quarterly 11 (1): 50–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Astley, J. 2011. Women in police service: Why do so few achieve the ACPO ranks? PhD thesis, Liverpool University.Google Scholar
  3. Baxter, J. 2003. Positioning gender in discourse: A feminist methodology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, J. 1997. European policewomen: A comparative research perspective. International Journal of the Sociology of Law 125: l–19.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, J.M. 1998. Aspects of discriminatory treatment of women police officers serving in forces in England and Wales. British Journal of Criminology 38: 265–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, J. 2000. Discriminatory experiences of women police. A comparison of officers serving in England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. International Journal of the Sociology of Law 28: 91–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, J., and F. Heidensohn. 2000. Gender and policing; comparative perspectives. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  8. Burke, R.J., and A. Mikkelsen. 2005. Gender differences in policing: Signs of progress? Employee Relations 27: 425–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Butler, J. 1990. Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2004. Undoing gender. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Connell, R. 1987. Gender and power. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  12. Cornelius, N., and D. Skinner. 2005. An alternative view through the glass ceiling. Women in Management Review 20: 595–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cortis, R., and V. Cassar. 2005. Perceptions about women as managers: Investigating job involvement, self-esteem and attitudes. Women in Management Review 20: 149–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dick, P., and C. Cassell. 2002. Barriers to managing diversity in a UK constabulary: The role of discourse. Journal of Management Studies 39: 953–976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eagly, A.H., and L. Carli. 2007. Women and the labyrinth of leadership. Harvard Business Review 85: 62–71.Google Scholar
  16. Fawcett Society. 2009. Engendering justice – From policy to practice. Accessed 18 Nov 2016.
  17. Government UK. 2015. Women in policing. Accessed 22 Feb 2017.
  18. Grisoni, L., and M. Beeby. 2007. Leadership, gender and sense-making. Gender, Work and Organization 14: 191–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Haar, R.N. 2005. Factors affecting the decision of police recruits to “drop-out” of police work. Police Quarterly 8: 431–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hargreaves, J., J. Cooper, E. Woods, and C. McKee. 2016. Police workforce, England and Wales. London: Home Office. Accessed 03 Nov 2016.
  21. He, N., J. Zhao, and C. Archbold. 2002. Gender and police stress. The convergent and divergent impact of work environment, work family conflict, and stress coping mechanisms of female and male police officers. Policing: An International Journal of Police 25: 687–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heidensohn, F. 1985. Women and crime. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  23. Hymowitz, C., and T. Schellhardt. 1986. Cracking the glass ceiling. Accessed 9 Nov 2016.
  24. Jackson, J.C. 2001. Women middle managers’ perception of the glass ceiling. Women in Management Review 16 (1): 30–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kelan, E. 2009. Gender, logic and (un)doing gender at work. Gender, Work and Organization 17 (2): 174–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Linehan, M. 2001. Networking for female managers’ career development. Journal of Management Development 20: 823–829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lord, V., and P.C. Friday. 2003. Choosing a career in police work: A comparative study between applicants for employment with a large police department and public high school students. Police Practice and Research 4: 63–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Martin, S.E. 1979. POLICEwomen and policeWOMEN: Occupational role dilemmas and choices of female officers. Journal of Police Science and Administration 17: 314–322.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 1991. The effectiveness of affirmative action: The case of women in policing. Justice Quarterly 8: 489–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Martin, S.E., and N.C. Jurik. 1996. Doing justice doing gender; Women in law and criminal justice occupations. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Marvin, S. 2001. Women’s career in theory and practice: Time for change? Women in Management Review 16: 183–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. ———. 2006. Venus Envy 2: Sisterhood, queen bees and female misogyny in management. Women in Management Review 21: 349–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Messerschmidt, J.W. 2009. Doing gender: The impact and future of a salient sociological concept. Gender and Society 23: 85–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Metcalfe, B., and P. Dick. 2000. Is the force still with you? Measuring police commitment. Journal of Managerial Psychology 15: 812–832.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Metcalfe, B., and G. Dick. 2002. Is the force still with her? Gender and commitment in the police. Women in Management Review 17: 392–403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Meyerson, D.E., and J.K. Fletcher. 2000. A modest manifesto for shattering the glass ceiling. Accessed 26 Jan 2017.
  37. Miles, M., and M.A. Huberman. 1994. An expanded sourcebook; Qualitative data analysis. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  38. Morgan, G. 1981. The schismatic metaphor and its implications for organisational analysis. Organisation Studies 2: 23–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Patterson, N. 2010. Leader and follower perspectives of entrepreneurial leadership: How is gender experienced in small firms? PhD thesis, Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University.Google Scholar
  40. Powell, G.N., and D.A. Butterfield. 2003. Gender, gender identity, and aspirations to top management. Women in Management Review 18: 88–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rabe-Hemp, C.E. 2009. POLICEwomen or policeWOMEN? Doing gender and police work. Feminist Criminology 4: 114–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ramaswami, A., G.F. Dreher, R. Bretz, and C. Weithoff. 2010. Gender, mentoring and career success: The importance of organizational context. Women in Management Review 63: 385–405.Google Scholar
  43. Rodgers, H., L. Yeomans, and S. Halliday. 2016. An interdiscursive analysis of television representations and professional femininities: The “Gogglebox”. In Gender, media and organization: Challenging mis(s)representations of women leaders and managers, ed. C. Elliott, V. Stead, S. Mavin, and J. Williams. Charlotte: IAP, Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  44. Rutherford, S. 2001. Organisational cultures, women managers and exclusion. Women in Management Review 16: 371–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schein, V.E. 1973. The relationship between sex role stereotypes and requisite management characteristics. Journal of Applied Psychology 57: 95–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. ———. 1975. The relationship between sex role stereotypes and requisite management characteristics among female managers. Journal of Applied Psychology 60: 340–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Silverman, D. 2004. Doing qualitative research: Theory, method and practice. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  48. Silvestri, M. 2003. Women in charge: Policing, gender and leadership. Cullompton: Willan Publishing.Google Scholar
  49. ———. 2007. Doing police leadership: Enter the new smart macho. Policing and Society 17: 38–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sims, B., K.E. Scarborough, and J. Ahmad. 2003. The relationship between police officers’ attitude toward women and perceptions of police models. Police Quarterly 6: 278–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Sumner, C. 1990. Foucault, gender and the censure of deviance. In Feminist perspectives in criminology, ed. L. Gelsthorpe and A. Morris, 33–48. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Thomas, R., and A. Davies. 2002. Restructuring the “Old Bill”: Policing identities and commitment. Women in Management Review 17: 180–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tomlinson, J. 2006. Routes to part-time management in UK service sector organizations: Implications for women’s skills, flexibility and progression. Gender, Work and Organization 13: 585–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Vinnecombe, S., and V. Singh. 2002. Sex role stereotyping and requisites of successful top managers. Women in Management Review 17: 120–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Waddington, P. 1999. Police (canteen) culture; An appreciation. British Journal of Criminology 39: 287–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Walklate, S. 1995. Equal opportunities and the future of policing. In Core issues in policing, ed. F. Leishman, B. Loveday, and S. Savage. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  57. ———. 2004. Gender, crime and criminal justice. 2nd ed. Cullompton: Willan Publishing.Google Scholar
  58. Wilson, F.M. 2003. Organisational behaviour and gender. 2nd ed. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd..Google Scholar
  59. Wood, G., and M. Lindorff. 2001. Sex differences in explanations for career progress. Women in Management Review 16: 152–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yim, P.C., and M.H. Bond. 2002. Gender stereotyping of managers and the self-concept of business students across their undergraduate education. Women in Management Review 18: 364–372.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet Astley
    • 1
  1. 1.Leadership, Governance and People ManagementLeeds Business School, Leeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations