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Officers’ views on women in policing


Published online on


Policing: An International Journal, Ahead of Print.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine how receptive police officers are to having women as partners and supervisors at work in a cross-national context. Specifically, it compares male and female police officers’ views on women in policing along three dimensions in Dubai and Taipei: perceived efficacy of women in policing; receptiveness of women at work (as partners and supervisor); and perceived women’s role in police work. Design/methodology/approach Surveys (with the same instrument) were conducted with 622 officers (344 male and 278 female officers) in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and 391 officers (297 male and 94 female officers) in Taipei, Taiwan. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were employed to compare male and female officers’ views on women in policing in both countries. Findings It was found that female officers (in Dubai and Taipei) were more likely than their male colleagues to see women as capable and effective in performing police duties. Compared to their colleagues in Taiwan, the Emirati male and female officers were more likely to be supportive of women’s restricted role in policing. Dubai male officers were less likely to be receptive to working at a unit with a female as their supervisor in comparison to their female colleagues in both countries. Research limitations/implications Although this study provides important information from a cross-national perspective, caution should be taken while interpreting these findings. The gender roles embedded in Islamic cultures seem to explain Dubai officers’ favorable attitudes toward women’s restricted role in policing. Future studies should incorporate in-depth interviews to explain why officers in Dubai prefer women’s restricted roles in policing. Practical implications The statistical analyses show that officers with higher levels of confidence not only held more positive attitudes toward women in policing, but also were more receptive to having women as their partners and supervisors. It suggests that confident officers would be more open-minded and welcome the entry of women into police work. By offering training courses that enhance officers’ work confidence, police organizations in both countries might well cultivate a welcoming work environment for women. Social implications If police organizations in Taiwan and the UAE instill cultures with an emphasis less on masculine traits than on collaborative style, male officers might free themselves from traditional gender norms and become more welcoming to women who work in policing. Originality/value Previous scholarly efforts on examining different areas of women in policing have mainly focused on police officers in western countries, leaving a relative scarcity of information about how officers perceive women’s role in policing in the other parts of the globe. Female officers have to work hand in hand with male officers in policing. To enhance the efficiency of deployment and cohesion of work relationship among male and female officers, it is important to understand how male officers perceive women’s roles in policing and how receptive they are to having women as partners. Understanding their perceptions from both sides can help administrations initiate effective training and educational programs.