Women are underrepresented in top senior-level positions in corporate America as well as law enforcement. The organization Catalyst presented a research study in which a large majority of women faces barriers in their current work environment because they lack mentors, career advancement opportunities and networking opportunities. Women face other challenges in their aspirations for advancement to senior-level positions, including exclusion from informal networks, stereotyping of women already in leadership positions, and misconceptions of women’s roles and abilities as executive leaders.
The United States Glass Ceiling Commission posited that the glass ceiling was a barrier that hindered many women and minorities from entering into positions of authority in business. African American women represent only 1.6% of the entire top command staff in sworn law enforcement agencies of cities in the United States. According to the latest statistics available by the National Center for Women and Policing, women make up only 13% of all police officers.
Women of color are underrepresented in the law enforcement industry. There is a limited amount of information known about the unique perspectives and experiences of women of color in professional and managerial positions. Senior executives who are women of color are rare in organizations. Women of color are not recognized by society as a discrete group within organizations where they experience racism, sexism and other issues related to discrimination. Attempts have been made to generalize all women’s experiences with the women of color experiences.
Although affirmative action has led to more hiring of women of color, African American women continue to be underrepresented in top law enforcement positions in many cities and counties in Georgia. Many local law enforcement agencies have affirmative action plans that require more active recruitment of African American women.
The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) recommends that the racial make-up of the law enforcement officers mirror the racial make-up of the community. Logically, a representative law enforcement agency is more likely to understand the culture, the views of the community, and is more likely to be tolerant of those views. Some research is linked to the lack of diversity in law enforcement to persistent poor relations with communities and even police misconduct. The challenge for law enforcement agencies, of course, is to identify ways to draw minority and female applicants, given the already thin applicant pool. Affirmative action offers a guide for police, but it is essential that police do not go about hiring less qualified applicants because of race or gender. The spirit of affirmative action rests on the notion that qualified minority and female applicants are available, agencies may just have to look harder to find them. To do this, their recruitment efforts may have to be tailored to target those traditionally underrepresented groups.
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