Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Caringella


In the last decade, the percentage of women working as police officer has not seen any significant increase. This dissertation, "Don't Let the Job Change You; You Change the Job:" The Lived Experiences of Women in Policing uses in-depth, participant guided interviews with current women police officers to gain a better understanding of their experiences. The goal of this project was to allow the women to speak for themselves, and in sharing the narratives of their lived experiences as officers, both add to and build on the existing research on women working in policing. In addition to the interviews, observations of women on the job were conducted. This study explores topics in policing that specifically impact women officers, such as gender role stereotypes and the organizational structure that seeks to keep women out of the policing occupation.

The study implements feminist standpoint theory as well as postmodern feminism in order for the voices of the women officers to not only be heard but to be privileged as knowers. Complimenting these approaches is the use of phenomenology that allows for individuated perceptions and to highlight the phenomenon that is policing, more specifically women in policing. The findings conclude that women police officers remain marginalized and isolated on the job, even though they successfully perform the duties that policing requires. Further, the majority of the women faced some form of discrimination or harassment on the job. Along with feeling this discrimination the women were also passed over for promotion, received differential treatment because of their status as women and were ignored when it came to providing them with uniforms and equipment that properly fit them, resulting in potential safety issues on the job. The most emergent issue that was found in the results of this project was the heightened harassment and discrimination that the officers who identified as lesbians faced on the job.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access