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Student Research | Discrimination Faced by Women in Policing

An interview with Natalie Fachada, an undergraduate student in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, on her capstone research project.

What are you researching?

The overall basis of my research aimed to explore and understand discrimination that women in policing face. While the changing social paradigm in American culture has led to women entering many professions, law enforcement remains one of the few professions with less than 15% of the population identifying as female. This statistic shows that there is a huge underlying problem of the profession, so I aimed to understand the nature of police culture, how it has excluded women from joining and/or remaining in the profession, and receive promotions.

What led you to pursue this research?

I first became interested in this research because I have always wanted to be in law enforcement. During my capstone I worked with Professor Simon Singer who strongly encouraged me to pursue this research topic from the beginning. He let me have full freedom to research as much as I wanted to understand the social dynamic of police subculture. Professor Singer suggested that I include my own ethnographic research in my capstone paper to give voice to women in the profession. I then reconnected with the police officer I had interned with last summer who worked as a school resource officer and lead sexual assault investigator at her department.

How has the research impacted you?

After researching the topic of women in policing, I have definitely been impacted by what I learned. It made me very aware of the exact types of situations I may be faced with and the sort of treatment I will receive when joining the profession. The police subculture has been reported to be sexist, hyper-masculine, and toxic, but it motivated me even more to want to change that. My capstone project solidified my plan to want to become a police officer and compelled me to fix the underlying sexism, discrimination, and negative subculture that exists in the profession. 

What is the end goal of your research?

I would love to continue to conduct research on women in policing and possibly consider it as a research topic if I pursue a higher degree. Additionally, I would love to use it as the basis to help change policy in the profession and ensure that more women become police officers. Huge changes in policing could come from more women being in the profession and the research that I conducted for my capstone serves as a basis to identify and explain the exact parts of the profession that need to be addressed and changed.  

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