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African American Women In Law Enforcement: Barriers And Challenges

Law enforcement agencies strive to ensure equality in the workplace regarding barriers that have long existed and directed towards African American Women (AAW). Recruitment of AAW and members of the diverse groups has been one of the major concerns and still a priority of law enforcement. AAW have not only been underrepresented but also entirely been discriminated and programs initiated that barricades AAW from advancing in the system. Both the government and society has contributed to this problem while the culture long created by men concerning the place of women in law enforcement positions being a difficult barrier to break. Racism and bias at personal level is counted among the many reasons as to why African American women representation in law enforcement has failed.

Diversity has not been embraced and continues to be worked against by members of the hierarchy. Regardless of law enforcement, attracting more recruits, retaining and promotion has been difficult due to lack of diversity. Senior managements have not been quick enough to send the message to all participants of the need to embrace diversity and conformance by all police officers of all ranks about value statement. A great challenge for women has been breaking this bond among men to make them consider everyone as equal and capable of handling the jobs assigned. Making of judgments based on community difference and personality provokes the general idea of unity in police force and reinforces the perception of women being inferior and in the wrong career. Since culture shapes everyone, the AAW have different communication styles and personally from those of the white race.

Glass ceiling remains a major barrier in advancement in African American women. Specific protected classes have been promoted to senior positions while AAW are initiated in programs that have limited chances of advancement. These barriers have been assumed unacknowledged by officers at higher ranks yet individuals practicing them are well aware. Promotional opportunities have been made more open and available for the white counterparts frustrating the efforts of black woman in attaining supervisory and command ranks. Disenchantment, which extremely accompanies the frustration received and experienced by black women, greatly lowers their morale and subsequently translates to their low productivity in various positions AAW occupy. These have led to their early burnout and resignation because of the inability to cope with the challenges. In fact, most resign at such an early stage because they see opportunities that are more viable in other organizations, which respect and train them to achieve their career objectives. Lack of attention to equal opportunity and payment of individuals at the same rank and promoting practices in most law enforcement firms have in most cases resulted to a court-ordered promotions hence resulting to very bad relationships at the departmental levels. This is a major challenge since women are considered weak and unable to deal with such stress.

Families have been another challenge to most AAW in the police force and even their successful promotion. Most working AAW are married and require time to spend with their families. The more AAW are promoted, the heavier the work and demand to spend so much time in law enforcement tasks. This attaches them away from the responsibilities of the family due to the constant shifts in police work. The family setup has not provided AAW with the best support to advance in police force. Most have resulted to divorce and lack of cooperation with the husbands.

Law enforcement has continually designed male programs, which do not consider the hope of AAW having part in the running of the system. The systems have not encouraged the female officers to work and advance but have suppressed the needs of the female officers. Promotion process has disproportionately screened out female officers with tasks and assignments reinforcing the need of the White man to advance in the higher ranks. Coping of AAW officers in higher ranks has been entirely difficult with the advancement indicating racial discrimination and bias on gender. It has been major challenges for African Americans to manage dominates races and get the best output expected in the white dominated departments. This has created controversies of how the White controls the whole community with underrepresented Black members in the law enforcement. However, the agencies have considered using structured interviews that advocates for transparency and support of Black woman in law enforcement ranks. Board members have been selected from different races and sexes to oversee the selection process and ensure that the law enforcement agencies do not hurt the growth of AAW.

Hiring, retention and promotion of AAW in law enforcement careers is achievable. The barriers that have been developed can be eliminated easily if every party involved in discrimination and biasness can correct and consider what is useful and at the same time promote equality. Agencies should both consider addressing legal and ethical undertakings, which will make black woman feel appreciated and accepted in the community and in various careers AAW seek to advance. With the recent changes in law enforcement procedures and practices of promoting women comes an unprecedented opportunity to build a future, which has the strengths of creating values, and respect in the community and the entire law enforcement system. Progressive law enforcement executives therefore have the role of ensuring that black women, minority and the diverse groups secure positions in the most fair and ethically justified manner. The image of the agencies has largely been tarnished and it is upon those in the highest ranks and the government to correct it with publicity. Advocating for better recruitment, promotion, and management ways is structured and selection of individuals based on merit and qualification is considered rather than on color, gender and racial grounds. Racism has entirely been institutionalized in law enforcement agencies being hidden in use of uniform to symbolize that color does not affect individual interaction. This is clearly evidence in the promotion and job assignments that Caucasians getting the better jobs, rewards and positions.

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