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Women in the police force and the gender gap

In 1908, the city of Portland, Oregon swore the first female police officer into duty in the United States.

Gender distribution of full-time U.S. law enforcement employees 2016

Her role was focused on crime prevention and social work for cases involving women and children. Today, men and women perform the same roles in the police department and get paid the same, according to a 2012 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research. The report, however, did not include data on higher-level law enforcement jobs. Nevertheless, many police forces use a step compensation system that is gender-neutral by design.

No Wage Gap for Officers In 2012, the Institute for Women's Policy Research updated the data from a 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics report on gender differences in pay and published the updated report. While the report indicated that women's salaries were almost 18 percent lower than men's salaries overall, there was no pay difference between male and female police and sheriff's patrol officers.

Women accounted for 11. Step Compensation System Despite the fact that the police and sheriff's patrol officer role is predominantly male, it's not surprising that there would not be a wage gap between the two sexes.

Step Compensation System

Many police and sheriff's departments pay officers on a step system that's based on rank and years of service. Every officer with the same rank and years of service earns the same rate of pay, regardless of gender. Police and sheriff's officers are also frequently represented by unions, which typically help provide consistent wages between the sexes. Promotional Opportunities The patrol officer role is just one of several jobs an officer might have during her career in law enforcement.

Some officers might be promoted to a detective or criminal investigator role that pays a higher salary than patrol officer. If department uses a similar compensation system for higher-level jobs, the parity in pay might continue at the higher levels.

However, there aren't enough women in the sample to publish statistics on those jobs. This could suggest that the gender gap is manifested in promotional opportunities rather than pay. Other Kinds of Discrimination In many police departments, gaining acceptance from male officers might be more difficult than earning an equivalent salary. For example, in 2012, the Justice Department accused a state corrections board of hiring primarily male officers by designing a physical entrance test that was too difficult for women to pass.

That same year, a female police officer in Wisconsin was fired when she complained of sexual discrimination. The Department of Justice also filed suit in that case.

Salary Differences in the Value of Male Police Officers vs. Female Police Officers

The officer was rehired and received a punitive settlement in the case.