Politico Survey: Does Federal Law Enforcement have a 'Woman Problem?'
A new Politico survey – which the outlet touts as “the first to assess the gender gap in federal law enforcement in nearly a decade” – has found that “federal law enforcement agencies remain almost as male-dominated as they were during the Clinton Administration.”
According to Politico, women comprised about 14 percent of the federal law enforcement workforce in 1996, when relevant data was last compiled. According to the new survey, women currently hold 15 percent of federal law enforcement jobs, representing a one percent increase in just over two decades.
The survey indicates that the numbers are most disparate amongst border patrol agents, with only 5 percent of border patrol agents being women, “which means the Border Patrol employs fewer women than the U.S. Marines,” the workforce of which is 8 percent female.
Politico notes that, “Beyond symbolism, these imbalances also raise questions about the competence of these agencies. At the most obvious level, female agents are needed to do invasive searches of women — a not-uncommon occurrence at the border in particular (and one reason why Israel’s Border Guard Police has nearly 25 percent women). In other agencies, female officers are critical for undercover work. Most importantly, any organization that fails to engage half the population in its hiring is leaving behind serious talent.”
Ironically, despite the low percentage of women within the Border Patrol, the agency’s new acting chief is a woman – Carla Provost – a historic first in the 93-year existence of the Border Patrol.
Those agencies that fared the best in the survey “include federal probation and pretrial services, whose officers are perfectly balanced at 50 percent women, as well as IRS special agents and various offices of inspectors general, which boast 28 percent women or more.” But these examples appear to be outliers, with the general makeup of the workforce within law enforcement agencies largely remaining stagnant over the past 10 years.
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