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March 04, 2005
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Donna Milgram, Executive Director Recruiting Women to Policing: Strategies That Work
with Donna Milgram, Executive Director

Get the facts: Recruiting women officers

The Albuquerque and Tucson Police Departments increased the number of female and minority recruits in the Academy using the strategies below. The results speak for themselves:

  • Tucson Police Department: Increased the number of female recruits from 10% to 29% in two classes. Minorities were 47% of the first class. 450 women attended the first career fair.
  • Albuquerque Police Department: Increased the number of female recruits from 10% to 25% in two classes. 6 out of 9 women in one class were Latina. The top physical education performer for one class was female.

How to greatly increase the pool of qualified female applicants:

  • Assess your Department's current recruitment practices
  • Develop a strategic marketing plan
  • Host a women and policing career fair
  • Obtain free positive media coverage for the career fair and the police department
  • Develop flyers, posters and brochures with female officers featured

Short-term Strategies
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Women in Policing Career Fair

Career Fairs for women by employers have been a very successful strategy for recruiting women into traditionally male occupations and have resulted in a stronger applicant pool. An orientation could consist of a panel of female role models, information about the job (i.e. schedules, duties, career ladders), information about the training academy and its paramilitary nature, a presentation on what it is like to work in a male-dominated occupation, information about the application process, information about physical conditioning, and information on women and policing organizations.

The orientation enables the employer to communicate that women are welcome and sought after while providing women with a realistic picture of what the job is like. Career orientations are usually no more than two or three hours and should be held on a weekend or evening so that women already employed will have the opportunity to attend. A media and publicity campaign should be done to recruit women to the career fair.

Free media coverage that features female officers is the number one strategy for effective recruitment of women into traditionally male jobs.

  • Human interest news stories on female officers linked to job openings -- prior to testing periods. Newspapers and magazines including minority publications.
  • Public Service Announcements on television and radio with female officers featured.
  • Female officers featured as talk show guests on radio, television and cable television shows prior to the start of the selection process.
  • Listings in Calendar and Notice sections of newspapers, cable television, and radio.
  • Paid advertisements in the newspaper -- advertise under headings that women are likely to search in such as secretary.

Development and mailing/posting of brochures/flyers/posters to a targeted recruitment list of women.

Some examples of recruitment sources:

  • Women Likely to be Physically Fit:
    Gyms, Women's Sports Teams, Outdoor Clubs (i.e. rock climbing), Outing Stores, Martial Art Schools, Adult Sports Leagues, Soccer Clubs.
  • Military:
    Women in the Army Reserves, Military Bases, ROTC.
  • Women with Traditionally Male Hobbies or Volunteer Activities:
    Aviators (99s, International Association of Women in Aviation); Gun Clubs; Women volunteering as Emergency Medical Technicians/Firefighters.
  • Places Women Frequent:
    Women's bookstores, Women's Centers, Supermarkets, Laundromats, Shopping Malls, Hair Salons.
  • Colleges, Community Colleges:
    University Sporting Teams; Women in traditionally male majors such as mechanics, electronics, engineering.
  • Minority:
    Community Centers in minority neighborhoods; Associations for Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, African-Americans.
  • Women already connected to the employer:
    Civilian workers, Public Service Aides, ride-a-longs, daughters, sisters, wives

The Web as a Recruitment Tool.

Increasingly, departments are using the Internet to recruit candidates to policing. The Internet offers an inexpensive way to reach thousands of potential applicants around the country. It serves as a primary venue for many twenty-somethings who are job-hunting, enables departments to provide in depth information about the department and the recruitment and selection process, and generates acutely needed tech-savvy applicants. The California Highway Patrol found that the Internet is the number one way that its applicants learn of job openings.

You can also use Web resources to communicate your female-friendly attitude toward women candidates. You can provide:

  • A departmental recruiting page featuring women (and minorities)
  • Advertisements on job Web sites dedicated to women (and minorities)
  • Internet advertisements, such as banners and pop-up messages on Web sites, dedicated to women (and minorities)
  • Participation in e-mail lists dedicated to women (and minorities)

Long-term Strategies:

Police departments may want to approach two and four-year colleges with criminal justice programs in their communities and develop a collaborative goal of recruiting women students. Departments can also offer internships for students, thereby strengthening their connection to the police department. Some high schools have developed "police academies" that teach all subjects through the lens of law enforcement. The Sacramento, California, Police Department has used this model successfully as a pipeline for recruiting more females and minorities.

Department programs such as police aides, police reserves, police explorers, or the citizen police academy are all potential recruitment grounds. The Albuquerque Police Department actively recruited women officers for its police cadet program, and several female participants in this program were eventually accepted into the training academy.


IWITTS developed and tested the strategies described on this fact sheet in collaboration with the Albuquerque Police Department under Chief Joseph Polisar as a part of the New Workplace for Women Project. This U.S. Department of Labor demonstration project provided intensive customized technical assistance to employers on how to recruit, retain and successfully integrate women into traditionally male jobs with a particular emphasis on minority women.

About the author

For more information on "How To Recruit Women to Policing and Retain Them in the Academy" see the 14th Recruiting Women to Policing: Strategies That Work Workshop in San Francisco on March 3 & 4 conducted by Donna Milgram at http://www.womentechstore.com/policerecruittrainSF.html
To contact Donna Milgram email her via IWITTS website http://www.iwitts.com/html/contact_us.html



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