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Breaking into jail : women working in a men's jail Cadwaladr, Margaret I. 1993

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BREAKING INTO JAIL:WOMEN WORKING IN A MEN'S JAILbyMARGARET I CADWALADRB.A., The University of British Columbia, 1971Diploma Ed., The University of British Columbia, 1988A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(The Department of Anthropology and Sociology)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITYI IT  OF BRITISH COLUMBIAJanuary, 1993® Margaret I. Cadwaladr, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.Department of .77),j1 .A,V)/(0^7^ <._ ^A --.'The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTThe study intends to present a detailed picture of what it is like to be awoman working as a guard in a "men's" jail. In-depth interviews with 21 femaleguards, 6 managers and 17 women working in jobs usually held by women in a jail(nurses, clerks, librarians) were used to explore the experiences of women inchoosing to become jail guards and the consequences of being a woman in themen's world of the jail. Whenever possible, the actual words of the participants areincluded in the text.The dominant idea which organizes the research is that female guards in amen's jail find themselves in a confusing position. On the one hand, to be femaleis to be different, to be an outsider. On the other hand, female guards have muchin common with, and are sympathetic to, their male peers.This research finds that female guards apply for, and accept, the job forfinancial reasons. Guards express feelings of frustration with management, boredomand isolation. Female guards see themselves as competent, but having a lessaggressive manner of carrying out their duties than some of their male peers. Yetthey receive unsolicited and unwanted paternalistic protection which serves toreinforce women's differences and devaluation in the organization. Female guardsexperience both personal and sexual harassment. These problems are compoundedby jail culture, by the comradeship of male and female officers and by the tokenstatus of women. Harassment becomes normalized and accepted by both men andwomen.iiThree patterns emerge which describe how female guards cope with thechallenges and frustrations of their jobs. First, they have much in common with theirmale peers and are accepted to a greater or lesser degree in the workplace. Second,they tolerate difficulties, including personal and sexual harassment, in part becausethe benefits of complaining are outweighed by the costs. Finally, some femaleguards withdraw from the workplace in one way or another: they avoid superfluouscontact with fellow-workers, go on stress leave, become apathetic or quit.iiiTABLE OF CONTENTSPageABSTRACT ^  iiTABLE OF CONTENTS ^  ivACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  vCHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ^  1CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW  7CHAPTER 3: METHOD ^  18CHAPTER 4: HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS FACILITATINGWOMEN'S WORK IN PRISONS FOR MEN ^ 31CHAPTER 5: WHY WOMEN CHOOSE TO WORK IN A JAIL  39CHAPTER 6: THE WORK ENVIRONMENT OF THE JAIL ^ 55CHAPTER 7: WORKING STYLES OF MALE AND FEMALE GUARDS ^ 68CHAPTER 8: PERSONAL AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT ^  82CHAPTER 9: COPING IN THE MEN'S WORLD OF THE JAIL ^ 106CHAPTER 10: CONCLUSION ^  120BIBLIOGRAPHY ^  126ivACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank the committee which oversaw this thesis: Dr. Martin Meissner,Dr. Gillian Creese and Dr. Jane Gaskell. I would also like to acknowledge theassistance of John Surridge, Dave Bahr, IIla Gibson, Terry Egan, and Helen Thorson.My sincere thanks to three women who offered both practical and emotional supportthroughout this project: Sharon Fulford, Ivanna Barrato and Dawn Farough. I amalso grateful for the unwavering loyalty, love and support of Dan, Aaron and Jim.Lastly, I wish to thank the women who were interviewed and without whom thisthesis would not have been possible.v1CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTIONThis thesis is about women who work in a men's jail. It developed out of myexperiences working as a correctional officer in a men's jail. I had accepted the jobunder duress as a part of the British Columbia government's restraint policies of theearly 1980s. Feeling much like a conscript, I was interested in why other womenwould choose such a job. Moreover, the job put me into intimate contact withguards and their sub-culture, an experience which sparked my interest in discoveringmore about their social relations. None of the literature I had read or images I hadseen on television or in movies corresponded to my own experience working as aguard. Guards have what Blanchfield (1985:4) calls a "perennial image problem".The media, the way in which most people learn about jails or prisons, highlight thesensational. One only hears about prisons when there is a hostage taking, a riot, oran allegation of undue force. Jails, meanwhile, are secretive and dislike negativepublicity. As well as being a non-traditional work place for women, prisons and jailsare unusual work places in themselves. Female guards are an especially interestingaspect of the prison enterprise.This topic proved to be timely. Women working in highly "male" jobs suchas guards and soldiers have received recent media attention. The planning, research,writing and revision period coincided with the Persian Gulf war which marked thefirst involvement of American women troops in combat zones (Denniston, 1991:A6),and allegations of discrimination and harassment of women working in the Canadianmilitary (Bell, 1992:b4; Bolan, 1992:A1, B1). At the end of the writing period, two2women alleged they were the victims of a gang-rape by male guards at a provinciallyrun training centre for guards in Ontario (Duncason, 1992:A4; "Gang Rape...", 15July 1992: A18; "Coverup..." 1992: A9; "Allegations..." 1992:A7.).The purpose of this research, based upon in-depth interviews with femaleguards, clerks, professionals (nurses and librarians) and interviews with both maleand female managers in one jail for men, is to 1) explore the experiences of womenchoosing to become prison guards and 2) explore the consequences of being awoman in the men's world of the prison. I used the interview method because Iwanted to document female guards' experience, needs and concerns. This inquiryis intended to be part of the research literature of women who work in jobsconventionally or predominantly held by men.I approach the subject from different angles. Each is intended to add to apicture, and thus an understanding, of what it is like to be a woman working as aguard in a men's jail. The dominant idea which organizes the research is that femaleguards in men's prisons find themselves in a confusing position. On one hand, tobe female is to be different and an outsider. On the other hand, female guards havemuch in common with, and are sympathetic to, their male peers. The work offemale correctional officers in a jail for men highlights the problems of all womendoing "men's work".The questions I attempt to answer include: How and why have women cometo work in such a highly male-dominated job? Did they consider the male-dominated nature of the job before accepting it? Are female guards different in anyidentifiable way from other women who work in the jail, for instance do they have3differing life and work experiences? Do female guards encounter difficulties thatmale guards do not? What are the bases of solidarity and differences womenperceive between themselves and their male peers? Do female guards face the sameproblems, such as sexual harassment, as other women? What forms does theharassment take? If female guards are indeed harassed, do they complain about it,and if not, why not? In what ways does the fact that the work place is a jailcomplicate problems like sexual harassment? How do women cope with a hostilemale environment?This research has five major parts. First, I consider the social and individualconditions which facilitated women's work in prisons for men. I trace thecircumstances under which women come to work in prisons for men, by piecingtogether the sequence of events which led to the employment of women as guardsin men's prisons.In order to address the questions of why and how individual women come towork in a "man's job", I compare the women who are correctional officers with twoother groups of women who also work in the jail, but in jobs that are conventionally"women's work", namely office workers and professionals (nurses and librarians).The comparison keeps the overall work organization the same, since the correctionalofficers, clerks and professionals all work in the same jail. The conditions of theirwork differ only in the conventionally masculine or feminine character of the work.Understanding why women choose the job is important. The discussionillustrates similarities and differences between women working in typically "female"jobs and women working as guards. This research finds that female guards, like male4guards, discover the job in a casual way. Female guards apply for, and accept, thejob for financial reasons. They are more likely than clerks, nurses and professionalwomen to have previous experience in "men's" jobs. The correctional officers Iinterviewed were much more likely than other women working in the jail tovolunteer information about backgrounds which were dysfunctional in some way, forexample to have been victims of child abuse, to being the adult children ofalcoholics and so on. Correctional officers tend to be younger, and better educatedthan clerks.The second part of this research addresses the work environment. Femaleguards are not simply working women, but women working in a specific andsomewhat unusual job. Jails have a particular culture and are typified by a potentialfor violence, conflict, isolation, a paramilitary hierarchy, boredom and a lack ofprestige. The circumstances of female guards must be understood in the context ofworking in a jail. This discussion also relates to sources of difference and solidaritybetween male and female guards. I include a comparison with clerks, nurses andlibrarians, a comparison which allows me to analyze the impact of being female asdistinct from the impact of being a female guard in a male jail. I found widespreadfeelings of frustration with management, boredom and isolation among the guardsand clerks. In contrast, nurses and directors' secretaries, both positions with a highdegree of autonomy, were relatively satisfied with their work and with management.Included in the discussion of the work environment is a chapter outliningdiffering working styles of male and female guards. This discussion is importantbecause female guards report that their male peers express fears that a female guard5may not be able to provide adequate backup in an emergency, such as breaking upa fight. This fear is used as a rationale for the exclusion of women from many dutieswhich bring esteem and acceptance. Female guards see themselves as competent,yet having a less aggressive manner of carrying out their duties than some of theirmale peers. Yet they receive unsolicited and unwanted paternalistic protectionwhich serves to reinforce women's differences and devaluation in the organization.Chapter eight, drawing on the experiences and perspectives of female guards,deals with personal and sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a common problemfor women. In a jail it is compounded by the culture of the jail, by the comradeshipof male and female officers and by the token status of women. Sexual harassmentis assumed to be a natural and inevitable cost of working in a jail. Harassmentbecomes normalized and accepted by both men and women.Chapter nine of this thesis will address the ways in which female correctionalofficers cope with the challenges and frustrations of their jobs. It addresses the waysfemale guards respond to sometimes hostile colleagues, a negative work environmentand a paramilitary hierarchy. The primary focus of the analysis is on the relationshipof female guards with peers, bosses, inmates and the organization itself. The typesof strategies female guards use to cope with their jobs and relationships highlighttheir inferior status. Three main processes were evident. First, female guards havemuch in common with their male peers and thus are accepted to a greater or lesserdegree. Second, they tolerate the difficulties of the job and seek to maintainharmonious relationships with their male peers. They do not complain aboutpersonal and sexual harassment, in part because they feel their complaints would not6be heard or acted on. Finally, some women withdraw from the workplace in oneway or another. They avoid superfluous contact with fellow-workers, they may goon stress leave, become apathetic, or resign.Finally, this thesis will look at some directions for change. The changes Ienvision would, in the first place, heighten awareness of the problems facing femaleguards. Second, changes would emphasize ameliorative action. I propose thatextensive training and sensitization be developed about the problems and frustrationsof female staff. Such training should start with managers. Further, I proposescreening for, and elimination of, inappropriate job candidates; that policy be alteredto include both personal and sexual forms of harassment; and that harassers face real,significant consequences for their actions. Mechanisms for complaint should bedeveloped outside the paramilitary chain of command. Finally, I propose thatmanagement should explore alternatives to the paramilitary hierarchy, for example,more participatory styles of management which include recognition for individualcontributions to the organization.In conclusion, this research is about the experiences of women choosing tobecome guards in a men's jail and the consequences of that choice. Female guardswork in an exceptionally masculine environment. They have much in common withtheir male peers and are sympathetic to them. Yet some of these male peers treatfemale guards as different and inferior. Female guards cope with their circumstancesbecause they tolerate discrimination, including sexual harassment, and because theywithdraw from peers in one way or another. This research is intended to developa greater understanding of what it is like to be a female guard in a men's jail.7CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEWThis thesis relates to several areas of research literature. These areasencompass male and female guards, the occupational choice of guards, prisonculture, and various forms of discrimination against women in the work-place,including personal and sexual harassment.The problems of being a female guard relative to those of being a guard arecentral to this thesis. Not only are female guards working in a non-traditional job,they are working in a particular type of institution, the jail. Women who work ascorrectional officers share many of the characteristics of women in other male-dominated jobs, especially women in the police and the military. Furthermore,female correctional officers face sexist attitudes and discriminatory behaviour in theworkplace. They are subjected to sexual harassment, paternalism, and isolation.Very little has been written about prison guards (see Sykes, 1958; Lombardo, 1981;Crouch, 1980) and even less about women working in prisons (Petersen, 1982:438;Flowers, 1987:xv; Moyer, 1985:6-7; Feinman, 1980:39,49-50). Academics haveneglected women in their research (Smith, 1987:61). Women working as guards areeven more neglected. Feinman notes that there were no studies of women workingas correctional officers until 1979, although women have been employed as guards,or "matrons", since the early nineteenth century (Feinman, 1980:49-50). Moyer(1985) reviews the literature on women in the justice system in the introduction toa collection of writings on the topic. Moyer notes that little has been written on thissubject because relatively few women have been either prisoners or professionals,8and both policy development and research have been controlled by men interestedin preserving the status quo. Moyer writes: "this official reality does not includeresearch on women" (Moyer, 1985:15).Women in the related, male dominated jobs of policing and the military havereceived more attention in research literature than women working as correctionalofficers. The United States military has conducted numerous studies on womensoldiers (Williams, 1989:58-61). Flowers wrote a critical examination of research onthe "tripartite" issues of "female crime victims, female criminals, and femaleprofessionals in criminal justice" (Flowers, 1987:xvi). Flowers (1987:169) notes thatfemale police officers have been given the most attention in the literature on womenworking in the justice system.Women working in prison are rarely seen by the world at large. Many peoplemay not even realize that women work as guards in men's jails. Faith (1987:181)reviews the "distorted and destructive" images of prison women on television and themovies. Faith writes that when female guards are depicted at all, it is as cold,"predatory", "masculine" women: "sadistic latchkey guards who stalk vulnerableprisoners" (Faith, 1987:183-84).Jurik and Halemba (1984) utilized questionnaires from 40 female and 139male guards to compare work-related attitudes and found that organizational structureand working conditions were more important than gender in determining attitudesof guards.Jurik (1985:291) interviewed 20 female and 10 male guards and 16 "other"staff in an American state prison to describe "interactional and organizational barriers9to advancement" of female guards in men's prisons. Jurik found that female guardsexperienced stress from having to adjust to the male-dominated environment of theprison.Flynn (1982) traces the history of women working in the criminal justicesystem and found their progress to be "painfully slow and fraught with difficulties".The correctional system only accepted women in its ranks as a result of persistentexternal pressure for the elimination of racial and sexual discriminatory practice andpolicy (Flynn, 1982:333).Szockyj (1989) distributed a questionnaire to inmates and interviewed maleand female correctional officers, inmates and supervisors in a Canadian remandcentre. Szockyj assesses interactive and physical abilities, acceptance of femaleofficers and privacy of inmates (1989:320). She reports the presence of womenallowed for the development of a less "macho" prison environment, both inmatesand male officers tended to be protective of female staff, although women reportedthat a small segment of the male officers did not accept female guards. Furthermore,inmates value women for a less confrontational style of interaction. Women areseen, however, as less effective when physical strength is required (Szockyj,1989:322).Other studies address the case law decisions which have led to the employmentof female guards in men's prisons (Matusewitch, 1980; Rafter and Stanko, 1982;Feinman, 1980; Parisi, 1984) or address the work styles of women as they adapt tothe job (Etheridge, Hale and Hambrick, 1984; Pollock, 1986). This material is10invaluable in tracing the process by which women have become employed as guardsin men's jails.Zimmer's Women Guarding Men (1986) is the most extensive study of womenworking as correctional officers. Zimmer interviewed seventy female guards, onehundred male guards, 37 inmates and several administrators in New York and RhodeIsland prisons. Her emphasis was on the problems female correctional officers faceand their strategies for handling them. Zimmer found that male guards are resentfulof women in male prisons (Zimmer, 1986:155). Female guards adapt to their jobsin three ways: (1) by avoiding contact with inmates and performing only some guardduties in protected areas of the prison (the "modified" role); (2) by adopting a mannerincluding inflexible adherence to formal rules and regulation which downplayfemaleness ("institutional" role) or (3) by seeking support and acceptance frominmates, performing all the regular duties of a guard, and relying on superiorcommunications abilities in preference to physical abilities ("inventive" role)(Zimmer, 1986:146).Research studies suggest that women develop less confrontationalrelationships with inmates than do male guards. Inmates are either neutral or positiveabout women correctional officers. Male inmates comply with orders and even assistwith supervision of other inmates. Problems on the job tend to be related to fellowofficers rather than to inmates (Zimmer, 1987:421; Zimmer, 1986:10; Szockyj1989:320-321; Fry and Glaser, 1987:41, hulk and Halemba, 1984:559).Petersen (1982) worked as a correctional officer in a men's prison inWisconsin. She based her research on participant observation, questionnaires, and11interviews with male and female correctional officers at three Wisconsin prisons. Shefound that while male officers resent female officers, females are "received quitepositively" by inmates (Petersen, 1982:452). Petersen writes: "The fact that eveninmates were aware of the hostility of male officers toward female officers issignificant because officers are counselled in their training, by the officer subcultureand by their supervisors, to present a unified front to inmates" (Petersen: 453).One of the focal points of my research relates to how and why women chooseto become correctional officers. Most studies of men working as correctional officersask why men choose the job. Most men accept the job because it was the bestopportunity available, the highest paid, the most secure and not subject to layoffs.Few actively search out the job but "drift" into it (Jacobs, 1981; Webb and Morris,1978:32; Ross, 1981; Crouch and Marquart, 1980; Jacobs and Retsky, 1980: 186-187). Jacobs (1981:42) asked respondents why they chose the job. More than onehalf (fifty-seven percent) cited reasons unrelated to corrections. They just needed ajob. Only one in ten mentioned aspirations specifically related to a career incorrections (Jacobs, 1981:42). Crouch and Marquart (1980:65-69) concluded that thedecision to take the job appears to be somewhat accidental, although some men jointhe force as a stepping stone to other jobs in federal prisons (which pay more money)or the police.Lombardo (1981) interviewed 39 correctional officers while employed as ateacher in the prison school and found that guards did not have long-standingaspirations to work as guards. Instead, they were attracted by financial security andpay (Lombardo, 1981:20).12Susan Martin (1980:60-62) conducted a study based on interviews withtwenty-seven policemen and twenty-eight policewomen. Martin found that manyfemale police officers indicated they came from poor families. Many had aspired tobecome police officers since childhood, while others appear to have joined thepolice force "by chance rather than choice" (Martin, Susan, 1980:65).Zimmer gathered material related to the occupational choice of female guards.Zimmer (1986:41) reports that most females sought the guard job for financialsecurity. In Zimmer's study, several of the female guards had worked in "female"jobs in the prisons. Because of a lack of other advancement opportunities, theygreatly increased their wages by becoming guards.Bass and Davis conduct workshops for survivors of child abuse. Theirpractical manual for assisting survivors of abuse was based upon their experiencesin these workshops and on fifty in-depth interviews. Bass and Davis write thatsurvivors develop self-sufficiency, a sense of humour, and the ability to cope in crisissituations. Survivors typically excel in crisis, emergency oriented jobs (1988:40,45).This insight proved relevant to the career choice of some of the female guards.Women working as correctional officers typically face hostility and resentmentfrom male co-workers and supervisors, often in the form of sexual harassment,paternalism, exclusion from informal social networks, sex-role stereotyping, higherperformance expectations and inadequate training. Parisi (1984:96) suggests thatmany men have begun to develop more favourable attitudes towards women workingas correctional officers. As barriers decline, however, harassment often remains insubtle forms.13Sakowski (1985/86) interviewed three of the eight women initially hired ascorrectional officers in Canada. She spoke with them in 1978 and again in 1983.Sakowski found that female guards experienced "intense hostility" directed at themby their male peers. Over the period of five years, sexual harassment became moresubtle and included speculation about the sexual activities of the female guards(1985/86:52).A recent survey of guards commissioned by Correctional Services Canada(Jamieson, Beals, Lalonde and Associates, 1990) notes that Canadian prisons havehad some success in bringing women into the male-dominated sectors of the system.These women, however, share disillusionment, isolation, and a frustration with thework-place as a whole. Barriers to female correctional officers include discriminatoryattitudes and behaviours of men towards women, and "a persistent, underlying ethosthat corrections work is men's business" (Jamieson, Beals, Lalonde, 1990:i-ii). WithinCorrectional Services Canada, "the general approach has been to place the onus onwomen to adapt to the male-dominated organizational culture, rather than on theorganizational culture to adjust its practices to the reality of women's equalparticipation" (Jamieson, Beals, Lalonde, 1990:ii).Research suggests that women typically experience varying forms ofdiscrimination when they enter previously closed occupations. Women receivedifferent job assignments than men, different treatment in training, are excluded frominformal social networks, are victims of sexual harassment, and face paternalisticattitudes on the part of peers and supervisors. For example, harassment makeswomen police officers hesitant to participate in after-work activities (Martin, S.,141980:155-157). As a result they are excluded from informal social networks.Lunneborg (1990:84) describes how women get inferior training when instructors andforemen channel them into less demanding jobs out of misplaced protectiveness.Women may, as a result, be bypassed for promotion due to lack of experience.One form of discrimination is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is acommon problem for women in work and educational settings (Backhouse andCohen, 1978; Kadar,1988; Grahame,1985; Allgeier and McCormick, 1983; Stanko,1985; Deaux and Ullman, 1983:28-29). All seventy female guards studied byZimmer described some form of harassment, although women differed in theirevaluation of the seriousness of the harassment. Sexual harassment included teasing,spreading rumours (i.e. that individual women are lesbians or are sexually involvedwith supervisors or inmates), or purposeful ignoring of women officers to the pointof pretending that they do not exist (Zimmer, 1986:95). However, Zimmer (1986:95)writes: "a great deal of the men's direct opposition is too subtle to be classified assexual harassment". Instead, Zimmer's respondents described a shared experienceof "working in a job in which they are unwanted and unappreciated by nearlyeveryone in their work environment" (Zimmer, 1986:53).Women in the American military have a higher dropout rate than men.Williams (1989) interviewed female marines, male nurses, military policy makers andfemale veterans of World War II. Williams suggests women leave the military as aresult of sexual harassment and the inability of males to accept women in the job.The military, in turn, blame women for failing to adapt to the job and consequentlyattempt to justify barring women from the military. This justification contradicts their15own numerous studies which have found no crucial difference in the performanceof duties of male and female marines (Williams, 1989:58-61).One recurring type of sexual harassment faced by women in policing, themilitary and corrections takes the form of gossip and rumours. Women in "men'sjobs" are often assumed by colleagues to be lesbians (Martin, 1980:99-100) orsubject to rumours that they are sexually involved with peers or supervisors (Martin,1988:14; Owen, 1985-86:55; Sakowski, 1985-86:53). Petersen reports that sheheard rumours about alleged sexual behaviour of "almost two-thirds of all femaleofficers employed in Wisconsin's male facilities" (Petersen, 1982: 453). The rumourscirculated widely. Military women, like their counterparts in police and corrections,have been subjected to massive "slander campaigns" that they are either "prostitutesor lesbians". During World War II, these allegations so distressed the WarDepartment that the FBI was asked to conduct an extensive investigation. Theinvestigation concluded that military servicemen were the source of the rumours(Williams, 1989:31,37).The research about male guards has been primarily set in the United States.Jacobs (1981) administered questionnaires to nine hundred and twenty nine Illinoisprison guards. Webb and Morris (1978) based their research on participantobservation during ten years experience in an American penitentiary. Jacobs andRetsky (1980) developed their ethnography from interviews with thirty guards atStatesville Penitentiary in Joliet, Illinois and their own contact with prisons. Crouchand Marquart (1980) based their research on formal and informal interviews withmale officers in a Midwestern American prison.16The research literature on prison guards describes an environmentcharacterized by alienation, cynicism, and a high degree of stress. Correctionalofficers and inmates both complain about managers and administrators (Jacobs andRetsky, 1980:189). Typically guards report that administrators and supervisors, ratherthan inmates, cause most of their work-related problems (urik and Halemba,1984:559; Ekstedt and Griffiths, 1988 ed.:234-235; Zimmer, 1986:26). Promotionalopportunities are few in the hierarchy characteristic of prisons. Most line officers arecynical about advancement opportunities, arguing that "pull" with a supervisor or thewarden is needed for promotion (Crouch and Marquart, 1980:101; Jacobs andRetsky, 1980:189; Lombardo, 1981:30; Jacobs, 1981:45-46). Prison administratorsare seen by subordinates as "drunk with power" (Webb and Morris, 1978:38),breeding feelings of alienation, frustration and impotence. High absenteeism ratesexist in most prisons (Ross, 1981:37).A prison is a large bureaucratic organization, so Kanter's study of an Americanmultinational is relevant to this thesis in two ways. First, both guards and Kanter'ssubjects work in large organizations in which individual workers have varyingdegrees of power attached to their jobs. Second, like women in Kanter's firm, femaleguards working in "men's" prisons and jails are relatively few in number. Kanter(1977:6, 249) describes the "numerically scarce" as tokens. Tokens are treated bythe majority group as "representatives of their category rather than independentindividuals" (Kanter, 1977:6). Tokens feel pressure to conform to group norms andto avoid mistakes. Kanter writes that tokens try to become "socially invisible" in17order not to "stand out". They are isolated from peer networks (Kanter, 1977:248-249).Kanter goes on to observe that people of both sexes lower expectations anddevelop networks with others in similar situations when they are placed in powerlesspositions with low mobility (Kanter, 1977:137). Such individuals disengage in someway, have a lack of commitment to the organization, withdraw from responsibilitiesand form alliances with peers who also have few opportunities for advancement(Kanter, 1977:140-149).Jurik and Halemba (1984:564) found that although women experiencedifficulties with male co-workers, job satisfaction levels were closely related toworking conditions and position in organizational structure rather than gender.In the preceding literature review, the major concepts of women working inmale-dominated jobs, especially the police, the military and prisons are highlighted.The research discussed above highlights some of the issues that are important whendiscussing women working as correctional officers in prisons for men. Thediscussion includes the concepts of career choice, prison culture and discriminatorybehaviour in the work-place, especially sexual harassment. This is a largelyunexplored domain. Female guards work in a jail setting, typically characterized bycynicism and a high degree of job stress. In addition, women working ascorrectional officers share the characteristics of other women in "men's jobs". Theyface problems including discrimination, exclusion from informal social networks,sexual harassment, paternalistic attitudes on the part of supervisors and co-workersand token status.18CHAPTER 3: METHODThis research sets out to discover what it is to be a female guard working ina "men's" jail. Through a series of interviews, I attempt to answer questions abouthow and why women have come to work in this job, and their differences from andsources of solidarity with male peers. Finally, this thesis attempts to explain howfemale correctional officers cope with their jobs and suggests some directions forchange. The research site is the modern, urban, Canadian jail I worked in fora year in the early 1980s. The jail houses one hundred and fifty adult men awaitingtrial or bail. It is tiny compared to the monster American prisons housing hundredsor thousands of inmates that have been most often written about. Generalizationsto other institutions must take into account the particular context in which this studywas carried out.The environment of this jail is considered "soft" by those who designed it.Whether a maximum security jail can ever be "soft" is doubtful. However, unlikethe prisons of the popular media, it is not surrounded by turrets with armed guards.To the casual observer it resembles an office building or even an apartment building.The inside of the jail is also unlike the media image. There are no bars or tiers,rather "living units" housing up to seventeen prisoners.What is perhaps most important for the purposes of this research is that theinstitution was designed to accommodate women as correctional officers. Theprivacy of inmates, a central issue in the integration of female guards into maleprisons, is ensured by design features including enclosed shower stalls. Inmates have1 9individual cells called "rooms" with solid doors and long, narrow observationwindows. Toilets are placed in a concealed area of the cell in all but segregationunits. Separate change facilities for women correctional officers were also includedin the design. It must have been assumed that female officers would remain few innumber as the change area quickly became, and remains, cramped and overcrowded.The jail was designed to create a "normalized" environment, and employingfemale guards was part of this normalizing process. In the words of managers, hiringwomen as correctional officers was seen as providing a more normal environmentfor both prisoners and staff, an environment which was meant "to mirror a smallcommunity". Hiring women was seen as "better reflecting society" as a whole, ashealthy for inmates who have to return to "the real world". It also has been seen tohave a good effect on staffing, allowing a "less macho" environment to develop.In many respects, the female guards working in this jail have more legitimacythan those working in other maximum security prisons for men, primarily becausewomen have been employed as guards since the jail opened. In most otherinstances, women were superimposed upon existing institutions and their attendanthierarchical structures. This jail is small and new. Men and women are trainedtogether and, with the exception of one post requiring "skin frisks", women areassigned to perform all duties within the jail.When the jail opened, six women were hired as correctional officers alongwith about one hundred and twenty men. When the research was conducted, therewere twenty women working as correctional officers. Although their numbers haveincreased, female correctional officers are still "pioneers". They are relatively few in20number and new to the system. Female guards have gained more, but not total,credibility. In the day to day world of the jail their presence seems ordinary. Still,the job remains essentially male. Female correctional officers are performing anunusual job in an organization which is, at some levels, still hostile to them.This research was conducted with a series of in-depth interviews with femaleguards, managers, clerks, nurses and librarians over the winter of 1990-91. A totalof twenty-nine letters were sent to correctional officers or former correctional officerswho had worked at the jail at some point. Of the twenty-nine current or formercorrectional officers I contacted, I interviewed twenty-one. This representsapproximately half of the women who have ever worked as guards in the jail. Iinterviewed seventeen of thirty-two women I contacted who had worked in jobsmore usually held by women in the jail, namely clerks, nurses and librarians.In addition to interviews with women, I conducted six interviews withmanagers. Some managers work in the jail while others are employed elsewhere inthe correctional hierarchy, such as personnel and the training academy. Theseinterviews were conducted with a view to gathering historical and proceduralinformation.Over the period of research and writing, I had numerous informal discussionswith correctional officers, both male and female. These conversations helped to fillin gaps and to add different perspectives. I also had informal conversations withformer inmates. I sometimes initiated discussions about the employment of womenas guards. Former inmates tended to be neutral or supportive of the employment of21women as correctional officers. Typically they would report "The women treat usbetter, they will help us more" or even "They are nicer to look at".I kept a journal throughout the planning, research, writing and revision stagesof this project. I also kept files of media clippings which related in some way to thetopic.The interviews were intended to present a picture of what it is like to be awoman working as a guard in a "men's" jail. I was interested in a method whichwould allow me to rely on the words and observations of women who actually workin the job. I interviewed both female guards and women working in traditionally"female" jobs so that I could compare the experiences of being a woman as distinctfrom being a female guard in the same jail. The clerks are particularly interestingfrom the perspective of career choice in that they have access to information aboutthe job of correctional officer and would likely have much to gain financially, butchoose not to become guards.The interviews were semi-structured and were comprised of both open-endedand closed questions. The closed questions gathered comparative backgroundinformation and remained consistent for all respondents.Given that a major focus of the research was how and why women chooseto become correctional officers, the similarities and differences between officers,clerks, nurses and librarians were noted. I asked questions about age, education,prior work experience, position, length of service, marital status, mother's andfathers' occupations and educations, and the number and occupations of siblings.I also asked: "As a child, did you have any particular career in mind?" and "Did your22parents express any career preference for you when you were growing up?" Thesequestions related to career choice and gathered information about family background.I asked "What did you like or didn't like about school?" and "How would youdescribe the group of people you associated with in high school?" These wereintended to start the respondent discussing themselves in greater detail, and to getsome sense of how they see themselves as people.Other questions related to career choice were: "How did you hear about thejob?" "Why did you choose the job?" "Did you apply specifically at this jail, orwould you have been prepared to work in any jail?" "What is the reaction of yourfamily and friends to your job choice?" "What persons or factors helped you decidewhether or not to accept the job?" I also asked the clerks: "Would you considerworking as a correctional officer? Why or Why not?"There is a potential for violence in a jail, and applicants for correctional officerpositions must pass a physical fitness assessment. I thought it possible that womenwho choose to work as guards might have long standing physical fitness interests, orat least maintain a higher level of physical fitness than other women who work in thejail. I was also interested in how female guards perceive their physical abilities, andwhether it was a factor in career choice. Finally, these questions opened adiscussion of the duties and frustrations of the job, including a discussion of maleattitudes towards female officers. I asked "What kinds of physical fitness activities doyou participate in?" and "Did you have to prepare extensively for the physical fitnesstest, or were you already fit?" I went on to ask "Do you participate in sports now?"and "Have you found physical fitness to be vital to your job? In what ways?"23Prison work is a largely hidden occupation. Since few people have everbeen in a prison, it seems reasonable to suppose that the knowledge that mostpeople have of prisons is based upon media reports and movies, largely negativeimages and reports of sensational incidents. I was interested in knowing how suchimages affect women's consideration of the job. I asked: "Some of the stereotypesabout prison guards are that they are all vicious brutes, or, conversely, that prisonscoddle prisoners. Did these types of images affect your career choice in any way?"Using a similar rationale, I asked: "Had you ever been inside a prison before startingto work in one?" "What did you expect working in a prison to be like? Does thereality differ from your expectation?"Prisons which house male inmates are an exceptionally male environment.This fact, too, might deter many women from the job. I asked: "Prisons havehistorically been a male domain. Did this make a difference when you wereconsidering the job? In what ways?"Employment opportunities have greatly increased for women over the pasttwenty years, often as a result of feminist challenges to the status quo. Most of theyoung women I interviewed entered the work-force after many employment barriershad been reduced or eliminated and are working in a highly male-dominated job.I was interested in how these women perceived the opportunities available to themand whether they considered themselves feminists. I asked: "How have thechanging roles of women in society affected your life, if at all?" and "Do youconsider yourself a feminist?"24One of my purposes is to describe what it is like to be a female guardworking in a men's jail. I therefore asked questions that were meant to introduce adiscussion about what it was like to be a guard. These open questions wereexploratory and were used to elicit the respondents' point of view about variousissues related to working in the jail: "What were the main obstacles to becoming aprison guard? How did you overcome them?"; "Could you please describe yourduties?"; "What are the greatest rewards of your job?"; "What are the worst thingsabout the job?"; "What do you see as possibilities for advancement in your job?";"In what ways does management encourage and/or assist women on the job?" "Ifyou left the prison as a workplace, why did you do so?"My original intent had been to write exclusively about career choice. Itbecame increasingly impossible to limit the topic, however. The greatest surprise Ifound came in response to a question about management and working in a jail.Respondents used the term management to describe local managers, the correctionalhierarchy and in some instances the criminal justice system as a whole. Manyexpressed a great deal of animosity toward managers and supervisors as well as ageneral feeling of frustration and dissatisfaction. As I read for the project, it becameincreasingly clear that these concerns paralleled the concerns described in theliterature about guards generally.One of the issues that came up early in the interviews was the issue of sexualharassment. As it was clearly a problem for some women, I asked "Sexualharassment is a common problem for women. Is this an issue in the jail?" In25extended discussions about sexual harassment I asked: "What would happen if awoman complained about sexual harassment?"The interviews varied in length from forty five minutes to four hours with mostlasting less than one hour. The interviews with the correctional officers weretypically much longer than those with nurses, clerks or librarians. Many of thecorrectional officers were initially very guarded in their responses, but warmed to theinterview. Questions about harassment, bosses, and hierarchy typically elicitedlengthy responses.The average age of the correctional officers I interviewed was twenty fouryears when they were hired. Of the twenty-one, six have a university degree. Allbut two have some post secondary education with an average of two years ofcollege. Six of the seventeen librarians, nurses and clerks have grade 12 educationand the remainder at least one year of post-secondary education. The librarians havea Masters degree. The average age of the librarians, nurses and clerks was thirty-three years at hiring. Several are in their forties, two in their fifties.All but two of the correctional officer's mothers worked outside the homewhen their children were small, most often in traditionally female roles as salesclerks, "cleaning ladies" or secretaries. One correctional officer reported that hermother has a university degree. Two others have some university. Eight of thecorrectional officers describe themselves as first generation Canadians. Their fathers'backgrounds are much more diverse than their mothers'. Four fathers of guards havecollege educations, several hold professional or managerial positions, and others areemployed in skilled trades or blue collar positions. Siblings of these women tended26to work in sex-typical jobs. Five correctional officers, however, reported familymembers in corrections, the police or the military.The families of the seventeen clerks, nurses and librarians tended to workwithin a much narrower range of activities than those of guards. Six of the motherswere homemakers. One was a teacher. Others worked in sales and serviceoccupations. Fathers worked in blue collar occupations. None of the fathers wascollege educated. Siblings worked in typically "male" or "female" jobs. Several ofthese women also reported being first generation Canadians. Two had familymembers in criminal justice occupations.The correctional officers were much less likely than nurses, clerks andlibrarians to report typically "female" work histories. Although many had worked infood services such as restaurants and fast food places, in dry cleaners, aschambermaids, in old folks' homes and in retail stores, some correctional officers hadmore nontraditional work experiences. Three had work experience with the policeand several of the correctional officers had previous experience in jobs usually heldby men, including skilled trades. Only two reported previous employment ascorrectional officers at other institutions. None had worked in typically female jobsin a prison.The clerks, nurses and librarians had little work experience outside of theirfields. Only one had experience in a "men's" job. There does not seem to be adifference between the women working in clerical or professional roles with respectto job histories.27Clerks were the group most likely to be mothers. Three clerks are divorced,four are married with no children, three are married with grown children and oneis separated. Of the correctional officers, eleven were single while working at thejail. Several reported having been in relationships with or marrying correctionalofficers. One is a single parent and two of the married correctional officers havechildren.There are particular problems in studying a prison or jail, partly related toguards' distrust of outsiders. I received the support of the prison administrationthroughout the research. Gaining entry had no doubt been facilitated by the fact thatI knew the managers before approaching them about conducting this research.However, most of the women I interviewed did not know me. Many told me thatthey had initially viewed my letter with suspicion. Several told me they threw itaway. Some said that their initial reaction was to ask themselves "What doesmanagement want now?" A number of women said they participated in theinterview only after receiving the endorsement of other women who had alreadybeen interviewed. I was pleased when several women told me they had enjoyed theinterview. They told me they would recommend it to their friends because it would"be good for them" in a cathartic or even therapeutic manner. One young womansaid "Some people are just going to be relieved to get this off their mind". Anotheragreed to the interview "because this research needs to be done".I requested that respondents contact me by telephone, but very few did. Imade follow-up telephone calls to the women, often by phoning them at work, aprocess that was very time consuming. I had to telephone the jail, determine which28women were working, and on which unit. When I called, I often discovered theyhad traded posts or shifts. I did not want to draw unnecessary attention to them atwork, and tried to be as subtle as possible in this process. A clerk assisted me inthis. I suggested that respondents select the site of the interview, which took placein my office, in restaurants, a shopping mall, at a park and in the women's homes.I faced many ethical dilemmas in writing this thesis. The population base forthe study is very small and the jail is a small, closed community with a relativelyshort history. Comments might be easily traced back to individual women. Mychallenge was to depict accurately a range of views and events while maintainingconfidentiality. To this end, tape recorded interviews were stored in a lockedcupboard and were erased after transcription and assigned a number rather thanattached to a name. A correctional officer read early drafts of the thesis and pointedout quotations and descriptions which might identify individuals. Some details werechanged to protect individual women from embarrassment or harm. All names weredeleted and some comments were edited for brevity or clarity. All but two of theinterviews were tape recorded and transcribed. Transcripts were photocopied andduplicates used for sorting and analysis. A series of numbers rather than names wasused to keep track of the interviews in order to maintain confidentiality.Another dilemma involves the use of terms. Correctional officers are calledsuch, even though they do not have a mandate to correct anything or anybody. Theterm came into use in the nineteen fifties and sixties with the shift to treatmentmodels in corrections. The term "guard" is no longer used in the correctionalestablishment, although widely used in the media and research literature. Some29correctional officers are offended by the term "guard" and exclusively refer tothemselves and other officers as "correctional officers". Others use the termsinterchangeably. As many women call themselves by both terms, and the literatureuses both titles, both are used in this research as context dictates. Likewise, theterms "jail" and "prison" are used interchangeably. Most research has beenconducted in prisons which house sentenced inmates for long terms. There isvirtually none related to smaller, local jail settings which house inmates early incustody and for short periods of time (Flowers, 1987:176-178; Moyer, 1985:23). Alljails and prisons share the inherent function of confining and controlling inmates, aremale dominated, paramilitary hierarchical organizations. The similarities betweenprisons and jails greatly outweigh the differences.This research draws on women's experiences and their interpretations of theseexperiences. Given that so little has been written about correctional officers, andmuch less on women working as correctional officers, it seems appropriate that muchof this research be descriptive. Whenever possible, I use the actual words of theparticipants. They show themselves to be intelligent, articulate and insightful. Mostquotations were chosen for inclusion in the document because they illustrate usualresponses to questions. As in any group, however, the women I interviewed havediverse opinions. In some cases, the quotes illustrate a unique point of view. Whenviews are unique, I have indicated such in the text.The use of qualitative methods which see the world through the eyes ofsubjects is preferred by many feminist researchers (Mackie, 1983:19; Jaggar,1983:377-385). Jaggar (1983:384) writes that "Women's subordinate status means30that unlike men, women do not have an interest in mystifying reality and so arelikely to develop a clearer and more trustworthy understanding of the world".Dorothy Smith (1987) proposes a sociology for women that starts with the actualexperiences of women in their everyday lives. In the introduction and conclusionsto her collection of essays on feminist methodologies, Harding notes that researchby and for women should be both based on women's experiences and describe therelationship of the researcher to the subjects (Harding, 1978:7-8, 181). I have triedto do this in the following study.In conclusion, this research is meant to discover why and how women chooseto become correctional officers in "men's" prisons, and the consequences of thatchoice. The research is based on interviews with female guards, clerks, nurses andlibrarians in a men's jail. Subsidiary interviews are with managers. My purpose isto develop an understanding of what it is like to be a female guard in a "men's jail",based upon the experiences and observations of female guards themselves.31CHAPTER 4: HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS FACILITATINGWOMEN'S WORK IN PRISONS FOR MENThis chapter is about the historical events which contributed to theemployment of women as guards in "men's" jails. This discussion provides answersto the question of why and how women have come to work in "men's" jails. Thediscussion also provides important background to the topic and demonstrates thedifferent relationships of men and women to prisons. Women are new to the prisonsystem as guards in men's prisons. A number of events including pressure for prisonreform, the women's movement, and equal opportunities legislation combined toform the circumstances for women to take the first steps into the male-dominated jobof correctional officer.The introduction of women working as guards in "men's" jails took place ata time of great change in policy and practice in the prison system. During thenineteen seventies, concurrent with the introduction of female guards, prisons cameunder critical examination. Ekstedt and Griffiths (1988:v, 315-319, 321) describenumerous internal investigations and inquiries which were conducted in Canadianprisons in response to violence and overcrowding. Prisons were, and some remain,archaic with appalling conditions. Disturbances, riots and hostage takings tookplace in Canada's prison system in the 1970s. The inquiries which resulted fromthese events made recommendations for reform of the penal system. Prisons becameincreasingly bureaucratized. Managers began to review policy with greater concernfor the legal rights of inmates, attempted to instill professionalism among staff and32to seek innovative change. Younger and more highly educated recruits were soughtfor correctional officer positions. Supervision of officers, documentation andaccountability increased, sometimes with the assistance of new technicaldevelopments. For example, in modern prisons computers control doors, camerasmonitor hallways, and officers videotape unusual incidents.Legislative changes and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms have affected boththe prison system and the employment of women. The Charter of Rights andFreedom came into effect in Canada in 1982. Civil rights increasingly influencedpolicies and practice in prisons as a result of court challenges initiated by inmates(Ekstedt and Griffiths: 325). At the same time, women argued that discrimination wasdenying them access to well-paying, often prestigious, male jobs.The idea of hiring women as correctional officers developed in the context ofsuch trends. Not only had barriers broken down through court challenges againstdiscriminatory hiring practices, but women are presumed to be more empathetic andcaring. They are thus suited to less punitive correctional philosophy and practice.The idea of hiring women as correctional officers was opposed by most within thebureaucracy and considered somewhat foolhardy by many. Yet policy makers madethe decision to hire women. It was an inexpensive way of showing efforts atreconciling several problems facing prisons. A respondent recalled that in the jail Istudied:They (managers) went in knowing they had to acceptwomen as guards and (they were) not sure that theywere going to be able to do it. It was the "in" thing.This was one area in corrections where we could show33innovation. "We'll get our token women. Fine if theycan do it, and if they don't work out, they don't workout".Women are not new to prisons. They have had, rather, a different role inthem. Historically, women have extended the feminine roles of caring and nurturinginto the prison system. The history of women working in prisons is associated withreform movements which attempted to ease the lives of prisoners (Feinman 1980:4;40-46). Women have argued for more humane treatment of prisoners. Some of thefirst women to work in prisons were Christian women of "upstanding" moralcharacter who saw themselves as role models. Feinman (1980:4) describes thereform efforts of sixth century Byzantine empress Theodora who attempted to assistprostitutes by confining them to a convent rather than a prison in the hope of"uplifting" them morally and spiritually.The Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Moral Reform Society areexamples of organizations established to improve the circumstances of womenincluding those in conflict with the law (Feinman, 1980:40). The most notablefemale prison reformer was Elizabeth Fry. Fry was a wealthy nineteenth centuryBritish philanthropist. She championed the rights of women confined to prisons.These prisoners were subjected to deprivation, brutality and sexual exploitation bytheir male guards. Fry was instrumental in securing separate facilities for womenunder the supervision of female guards (Blanchfield, 1985:6; Feinman, 1980:42-43).In the United States, Elizabeth Farnham, a "feminist, reformer, wife of alawyer" and intellectual introduced a literacy program into the women's unit of Sing34Sing penitentiary during the 1840s (Feinman:44). Feinman (1980:44) reports thatFarnham "tried to make the prison environment like a home and have staff andinmates behave like a family".The first women who worked in prisons as guards supervised women andyouths during arrest and imprisonment. Women were first appointed as custodiansin the United States in 1822. These "matrons" supervised female inmates. Parisireports that matrons were considered "softer" than male guards (Parisi 1984:92-93).A Canadian matron was first hired at Kingston Penitentiary in 1835 to guard threewomen prisoners confined there (Blanchfield, 1985:6).Women working in prisons continue to be associated with reform. Themodern integration of the prison system can be understood in the context of thereformist trends of liberal feminism. Equality is a central goal of liberal feminism andpersonal autonomy is valued highly. Liberal feminists believe the state, by way ofthe courts, has an obligation to protect individual freedom. The courts must protectthe pursuit of economic goals based on merit, not sex. Women should, therefore,be allowed to work in virtually any job. Access to jobs should be dependent uponindividual abilities and wishes rather than gender.In the United States, women argued that they should be allowed to work ascorrectional officers in "men's" prisons on the grounds that correctional hiringpolicies which excluded them were discriminatory. The first women were hired ascorrectional officers in men's prisons in California in the early 1970s (Parisi,1984:95).35In the United States, the 1972 Amendments to Title VII of the Civil Rights Actprohibited discrimination based on race, creed, colour, sex or national origin. Thisamendment ensured that women could not be discriminated against by publicinstitutions. Under this legislation, women began legal challenges againstcorrectional and law enforcement agencies (Martin, Susan, 1980:43; Pollock,1986:9; Fry and Glaser, 1987:40; Zimmer, 1986:4-11; Flynn, 1982).Men tried to prevent women from coming to work in the prison system.Flowers (1987:174-175) reports that ninety percent of American state correctionalsystems did not commence hiring women as correctional officers until ordered to asa result of legal challenges under the 1972 Amendments. Male inmates initiallychallenged the use of female guards on the grounds that their rights to privacy wereviolated. In the United States, half of the court challenges related to the employmentof female guards in male prisons resulted from inmate-initiated actions (Parisi,1984:99-100).A national study of the employment of women as correctional officers inAmerican prisons reports that by December 1978, all but four American statesemployed women as correctional officers in prisons for men. Women comprised anaverage 6.6% of correctional officers in state prisons for men, in most cases the directresult of the requirements of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Flynn,1982:324). Although the history of women working in Canadian prison has notbeen written in any systematic fashion, similar pressures seem to have been takingplace in Canada. In 1977, on the advice of the Human Rights Commission, theParliamentary Sub-committee on the Penitentiary System and the Public Service36Commission recommended that women be hired as correctional officers in all-malefederal prisons. Eight women were hired and began training for a Saskatchewaninstitution in March, 1978 (Canada, Sept. 1980:1). By 1983, all federal correctionalinstitutions for men in Canada had female correctional officers.The RCMP initially hired women to guard both male and female prisoners, butin January 1981 reversed the policy. The RCMP, like many American institutions,argued that the privacy rights of male prisoners were violated by the use of femaleguards (Amiel, 1987:9). Canadian inmates have made the same argument. Inmatesinitially challenged the use of female guards in prisons for men. In July 1990, theCanadian Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the privacy rights of inmates were notviolated should they be seen naked or frisked by a female correctional officer.The correctional officers I interviewed are a different generation from thefeminists who cleared the way with court challenges. The battles allowing womento work in men's prisons had almost all been won when the jail they work atopened. The correctional officers I interviewed are generally young. For the mostpart, they were born in the 1960s and entered the work force in the late 1970s and1980s. They grew up expecting to work outside the home. They take equality forgranted, expecting that any job they might choose would be open to them. Theyare, however, well aware that life and work circumstances have changed for womenover the past twenty years and acknowledge that feminism paved the way forchange:If I had been born twenty years previous, I would havebeen the miserablest person on earth. I am not a home37person. I will never be. I'm very career oriented, that'svery important to me. I'm not saying that being amother and staying home and raising kids isn't apurpose, but on an intellectual basis, I need more. SoI'm glad that I was born when I was and not 20 yearsprior. (Correctional Officer)I have always believed that we (women) could doanything we wanted to do. It's my mothers generationthat believes that they have to be kind of the submissivetype. My mother and I have arguments about that.(Correctional Officer)Well, I think that if the world wasn't changing, Iprobably wouldn't find myself in a career like thisbecause it is a male dominated field. Maybe I would beteaching, maybe I would be in social work. I'm notsure. If things didn't change years ago, I think it wouldbe a lot harder than it is today. (Correctional Officer).My respondents share many values with feminism yet do not identify with it.They strongly believe that women should work at any job they choose. They, too,highly value personal autonomy. They are modern, assertive young women. Tothem, feminism means liberal feminism. Feminism means women wanting socialequality with men and equal pay for equal work, goals which many believe havealready been achieved. They are, after all, working at a "man's job". However, theydescribe feminism as "bra burning", man hating and extremism. Many correctionalofficers explain that one of the reasons why they chose the job was that they likemen. Many of the men they work with treat them as equals. They have husbandsand boyfriends. They are hostile to sentiments seen as anti-male.38Some correctional officers call themselves feminists. Others have an aversionto being labelled, but remain sympathetic to feminist aims, especially regarding suchissues as equal pay. One reported:I don't like that term (feminist). I don't like labelling ofany kind. I consider myself to be a strong, assertivewoman. And I resent being labelled as this or that. But,I am active in a couple of organizations that are pro-woman. (Correctional Officer)In conclusion, women have worked in prisons since medieval times, oftenhoping to make things better. Modern women have entered into one of the lastprison domains, working as guards in prisons for men. They, like other women,have increased opportunities as a result of the women's movement. The employmentof women as guards in prisons for men was concurrent with calls for the reform ofCanadian prisons. Hiring female guards served to appease the pressure for equalemployment rights for women, was a means of showing innovation, and suited callsfor a more humane prison system. This helps to explain why and how women cameto work in "men's" jails. The question remains: Why would women choose sucha job? This question will be explored in the next chapter.39CHAPTER 5: WHY WOMEN CHOOSE TO WORK IN A JAILThis chapter addresses the question of why women would choose to becomeguards in a men's jail. The chapter emphasizes the differences and similaritiesbetween female guards and other women who work in the jail, but in jobs usuallyperformed by women. The chapter explores factors which are aspects ofoccupational choice. The questions I explore include: Do female guards considerthe male dominated nature of the job before accepting it? Was it part of a wellthought out plan, perhaps to move on to another job? Do the ways in which femaleguards and other women hear about the job in the jail differ? How does the reactionof family and friends differ for female guards and other women? Were clerks orothers more likely to have had prior jail experience or preconceived ideas aboutwhat working in a jail would be like? How are the work histories of guards andother women working in the jail similar or different? Do guards perceive themselvesin different ways, or have life experiences that brought them to the job?Correctional officers, clerks and professionals hear about the job in much thesame way. Surprisingly few of the women of either group had friends or relativesworking in the prison system before joining the service. Word of mouth was,however, a significant factor in exposing these women to the work opportunity,especially for correctional officers. Seventeen of the correctional officers reportedword of mouth as the source of prison job information. Within this group, fourwomen mentioned university professors who counselled their classes that workingin a prison was a "stepping stone" to other criminal justice jobs. Three mentioned40seeing an advertisement. One woman was transferred into the jail involuntarily. Sixclerks, nurses or librarians reported word of mouth, seven reported an advertisementor government posting and two described lateral transfers within government. Ofthose who reported word of mouth, especially within the correctional officer group,many described the source of information in very tenuous terms: a chance meeting,a friend of a friend, and so on. Some women heard about the job "by accident".Two of the correctional officers and two clerks did not even know they wereapplying to a jail.Many people would not work in a prison, no matter what the pay. Womenwho work as correctional officers face particular impediments. Not only must theybe willing to work in a job that is highly unusual for a woman, they must be willingto work in what many might see as an unattractive job. Most people learn aboutprisons from movies and television. Both emphasize sensational incidents. Thepopular image of the prison would give job candidates pause for thought, to considerwhether they really wanted to work in a prison. The prison workers I interviewedreported that they had few preconceived ideas about what the job would be like,except for rather sensational ideas from movies. Not only did they not have a clearidea of what to expect, they did not make a great effort to find out. The jail offerstours to potential recruits and employees which were the chief and usually onlysource of information upon which the decision to accept the job was based forwomen working in all jobs at the jail.I asked the women if they had sought advice or if there were individuals orcounsellors who were helpful in making a decision as to whether they should take41the job or not. Most did not seek advice, an illustration of the surprisingly casualnature of their decision. More than half of the correctional officers and most of theclerks reported that they did not discuss the job with anyone. A correctional officerexplained:No, I really didn't think about it. I go in, sail in, go forit! Both feet! And then I think, well, "I guess I'll sink orswim".Many women just "needed to work" or needed a change. The job was available andthey applied, without giving it much thought:It was just that I had to get a job. (Someone) told myhusband and he told me. That was it. I didn't evenknow the place existed until I needed the job.(Correctional officer)If anything, I accepted the job because what I was doingprevious, I wasn't enjoying. I just accepted the job as achange, something new. (Correctional officer)I didn't really want it, but if you're offered somethingand you're Iooking....l would have preferred close tohome, I would have preferred more money, but youknow, when you are actually offered the job. (Clerk)Ten of the correctional officers reported "needing a job" or that it was "justa job". They were attracted by the relatively high wage, job security and benefitsand stay for the same reasons. Six mentioned other reasons such as needing achallenge or a change. One mentioned curiosity. Only one correctional officermentioned having sought the job with notions of a rehabilitative role. She "thoughteveryone could be rehabilitated", an idea which she describes as "really naive".42Most clerks and librarians reported financial need. Two were single parents whenthey were hired. Two "wanted to work". A nurse reported that she accepted the jobbecause she knew the institution needed someone to fill a particular position.When the women chose to do the job, family and friends'reactions rangedfrom "terrified" to "excitement, envy, pride". While six of the correctional officersreported that their families were supportive or very supportive of their decision, mostreported that family members expressed concerns, primarily for physical safety.Clerks, nurses and librarians were as likely as correctional officers to experiencethese reactions from family and friends. A correctional officer reported that herfamily thought she would be "killed the first day". One correctional officer did noteven explain the nature of her job to her husband, presumably in anticipation of anegative response. She lead him to believe that she was working as a secretary. Thegame was up when she could not explain why she had to work shifts. Othersreported that family and friends acted with disbelief. Female correctional officerswere apparently unlike the image, the personality, the physical appearance or thelevel of intelligence that guards are assumed to have:Like I know one guy says "You're too nice to work in aprison. You can't work there". Most of them don'treally believe that I'm working there. (CorrectionalOfficer)"You're going to be a GUARD!!!! Oh, you can't do that"and I go "Why?" "Well, you're too smart". Well, guardsaren't dumb, they're just like everyone else. They wereall, you know, like out of touch with it. (CorrectionalOfficer)43A stable, government job, especially a well paid job with benefits, issomething seen as a godsend. A correctional officer explained "My family thinks Ihave a nice, cushy, union job. There was nothing negative about it." Those womenwho have friends or relatives in a related profession, such as the police or in thecorrections system, understandably had least difficulties. Working in a prison is "nota big deal". Women gave little or no thought to the male-dominated aspects of thejob. Several correctional officers mentioned that being "male-dominated" made thejob more attractive. Female correctional officers might have more opportunities foradvancement because of possible affirmative action policies. Others had badexperiences working with women and looked forward to an all-male environment.Clerks felt that the female nature of their work group meant that the fact that the jailis male-dominated was an irrelevant issue. A nurse noted that it is flattering to bethe center of men's constant notice and attention.Correctional officers were much more likely than nurses, librarians or clerksto express prior interest in "men's jobs". All respondents were asked if they had aparticular job in mind when they were children. Seven of the twenty-onecorrectional officers said that as children they thought of becoming police officers.This ranged, apparently, from a passing idea to a strong preference. One officer evenexplained that she aspired to become a correctional officer as a child. Fivecorrectional officers and one professional woman reported wanting to becomeveterinarians. Only three of the correctional officers aspired to what would beconsidered "traditionally female" jobs (nursing, teacher, hairdresser) as children.44As children, clerks, nurses and librarians were less likely than correctionalofficers to have aspired to jobs usually performed by men. Eight of the seventeennurses, clerks and librarians mentioned nursing, social work, fashion design orsecretarial work when asked if they had a particular job in mind when they werechildren. Three mentioned jobs usually performed by men. Three stated that theydid not have a particular career in mind, while the remainder described neutral jobs.A clerk explained: "I grew up in an age when a woman just had a job until you gotmarried. What a laugh, eh?"Clerks were more likely than correctional officers to have prior, first handexperience in a prison setting. Eight of the twenty-one correctional officers Iinterviewed had been inside a prison before starting to work in one, almost alwayson a tour arranged as a part of a criminology class. Nine of the clerks, nurses andlibrarians, however, had been inside a prison, for a broad set of reasons. Two hadvisited prisoners. A woman reported that a relative had been incarcerated. Othershad been on tours or had some work experience that had brought them into a prison.Two had relatives working in the prison system.While clerks were unlikely to express having had reservations about acceptingthe job, some correctional officers expressed reluctance about accepting it. Althoughmany female guards aspired to "men's" jobs, the specific job of correctional officerhad never suggested itself as a possibility. A correctional officer described herintroduction to the occupation:(A friend) said, "Why don't you come and get a job likethis?" And I thought, "Oh, knuckle dragging? I can't45imagine it". You're ignorant, you don't have an ideaand you're thinking "I don't know about this". So hesays, "You've got common sense, you can do it."Basically I came for a tour and I thought "Oh, well,maybe" and I put in an application.While correctional officers tended to have varied work histories, clerks, nursesand librarians tended to stay within a narrow range of jobs women usually perform.Clerks are the group with the least education and have the most limited opportunitiesfor advancement. They were also most likely to choose a job and stick with it.Their work histories tend to be confined to the type of job they are currently workingin.The casual way in which all of these prison workers made the choice to workin the jail contrasted sharply with how managers viewed the process by whichwomen choose to become correctional officers. Managers described the decision fora woman to work as a correctional officer as a carefully thought out career move, astepping stone to another job in probation or police, both seen as more desirable.This is perhaps a result of the fact that some of the first women hired received suchadvancement. An administrator summarized this view:For women, it tends to be part of a long term plan to goon to probation or police. The women tend to bringbetter skills. They have thought a lot about the jobbefore applying and self select. The men are here forthe paycheck and stay for it.Another explained:46The women that apply have screened themselves. Withmen you're getting everything from the kid that'sgraduated from highschool to people who have retired.Whereas the women most of them have thought longand hard about it, I presume. If you talk to them, mostof them have a pretty clear idea of what their career pathis going to be. The women have thought this is the wayto get into police or whatever. You're looking at twodifferent mind sets.Six of the correctional officers reported that the job was primarily a "steppingstone", but this appears to have been a vague motivation, a secondary considerationeven for women who did. go on to jobs in police or other areas of corrections. Twowomen described job offers from police which they turned down in favour of stayingat the jail. Those women who had been encouraged by professors to use the job asa stepping stone tended to be those women who had a definite "plan" in mind.These tended to be some of the first women to join the jail as correctional officers.They also tended to be the women with university degrees, who likely have betterjob advancement prospects in any event. For correctional officers for whom the jobwas part of a plan, the plan was rather vague and often went hand in hand with, orwas surpassed by, financial need:I was considering the police department in the back ofmy mind. It was something that I was dabbling with, sothat was an advantage. No, well (it was) financialfactors. I wanted to become independent and work andthat was about it. (Correctional Officer)Further evidence that the job is not a stepping stone to police or probationwas suggested when I asked "What do you see as possibilities for advancement in47your job?". Respondents did not tend to look outside the prison hierarchy, but insideit. Nine of the correctional officers mentioned possibilities for advancement withinthe prison hierarchy, while eleven saw few possibilities for any form of advancement.A jail is based on a paramilitary hierarchy. There are few supervisors and manycorrectional officers. Most will never be promoted and they know it. Guards whohave been promoted, who have gone on to other jobs inside or outside thecorrectional system, are understandably more optimistic about further advancement.They also describe a much broader range of opportunities as possible.In contrast to the correctional officers, the clerks and librarians were mostlikely to describe the job as a stepping stone. More than a third of these womenreported choosing the job as a stepping stone or as a part of a career plan, makingthis a more significant factor for this group. While clerks had been more likely toapply for the job as a stepping stone than guards, they were more likely to abandonthe idea. They found that in reality they have few promotional opportunities. Theclearest "stepping stone" the jail offers is for the librarians, recent university graduateslooking for a first professional position in which to gain job experience.Advancement opportunities for nurses are confined to the position of "Head Nurse".It may be that correctional officers over-report a career plan during the jobinterview in an attempt to impress the interviewers. The stepping stone concept ispresented to potential recruits in a pre-interview recruitment film. By presentingthemselves as looking for advancement, they demonstrate themselves as active andmotivated potential employees. Describing oneself as seeking advancement alsoexplains in some satisfactory manner why they would consider such an unusual job.48Managers' assumptions that women work in the jail only as a stepping stoneto other criminal justice system jobs has potentially negative implications for women.However unconsciously, female correctional officers are treated differently from malepeers. Women may be excluded from being channelled into better positions withinthe jail which might lead to promotion. If managers assume that female officers areusing the job as a stepping stone, they also presumably assume that these officershave less commitment to the organization, that they will soon leave. Women'sconcerns, therefore, can be more easily dismissed.The suggestion that women use the job as a stepping stone implies thatwomen have opportunities for advancement. It seems likely that a young womanwith two years of post secondary education is working in a job that is relatively wellpaying compared to many of her friends and contemporaries. It is often likely themost money she has ever made, since most have worked primarily in low-paidservice jobs. Many women are well aware that their job prospects are restricted.Women accept the job of correctional officer for the money and stay for it.Most clerks appear to have the most conservative notions about the properroles for men and women and are concerned about maintaining femininity intraditional ways. Clerks are aware of opportunities to work as correctional officers,typically could use the financial gain such a move would ensure, but choose not totake advantage of these opportunities. Most did not even consider the job ofcorrectional officer, fearing that they might change in ways that conflict with theirbeliefs about the proper role of women, becoming coarser, or unfeminine in someway. Many pointed out that the language of some of the female correctional officers49was punctuated with profanities. One clerk explains that women working ascorrectional officers "become like the men" and "tend to lose some of theirfemininity".Some clerks considered the possibility of applying for the job of correctionalofficer, but all but one rejected the idea. Not only do they fear the loss offemininity, they mentioned shift work, the lack of acceptance by male guards,potential hostility from inmates, and the futility of the prison system as reasons forlack of interest. Clerks reported that the reality of the job simply does not appeal.One clerk explained:I don't have any compassion for people who do thingsto children or women. Children especially. Therefore,I couldn't even pretend to want to be nice to them. Ijust couldn't. And I'm probably wrong because I wouldprejudge, but that's the way I am. So I couldn't evenpretend to take care of them in the jail. That to mewould be a depressing job, and life's too short.One striking discovery which differentiates correctional officers from otherwomen working in the jail relates to the content and quantity of information officersreported about their family backgrounds and life histories. Correctional officers weremuch more likely than clerks and professionals to give unsolicited reports of troubledfamily backgrounds, broken homes, having been victims of child abuse, having analcoholic parent, and various forms of teenage rebellion. I do not mean to suggestthat they all came from disrupted homes, but it was a characteristic that became astrong thread in interviews. Whether or not there is a higher incidence of suchbackgrounds among correctional officers than other women (clerks, nurses, librarians)50is difficult to tell, but there was a higher incidence of self-reports even though I didnot ask questions about abuse or alcoholic families, but rather general questionsabout their formative years (How would you describe the group of people youassociated with as a teenager? Can you tell me what jobs you have held? What didyou like or didn't you like about school?).Many of the correctional officers describe their lives and their jobs asoutsiders, as rebels, and as survivors. A correctional officer told me "Although wewere all different, we were all rebels. You'd have to be, even to consider the job".Another correctional officer described her teenage years in this way:I guess I was your rebellious kind of an A student.Growing up as a teenager is traumatic enough, nevermind if your family life is unstable. So because of thatit was very difficult for me to concentrate in school andafter a while I just thought, "Fuck this. Why am I evengoing?" It was rebelling. It was my way of saying"Screw you. You're screwed up and you're telling meto take all these educational courses when I can't keepup because my home life is a mess and my life is a messand so why should I?" (Correctional Officer)Women working as correctional officers describe themselves as independent,strong-willed and self-aware. One correctional officer described her female peers inthis way:Women who work in prisons are much more secure inthemselves as individuals. I don't think women whowork in prisons are part of groups. They're veryindividual. Usually quite outspoken, which is probablyusually to their detriment. They are women who arecomfortable with themselves. I don't think you couldwork in an institution and last more than three weeks if51you went in not knowing who you were. You'd learnquickly or you'd quickly leave.Female guards use the lessons of childhood as a means of understanding theadult world. They often appear to see themselves as outsiders. After describingcoming from an alcoholic home, one correctional officer explained:I look at the guards and I look at the inmates and theyare the same people, probably generally the same kindsof background. Just the flip side of the same coin. I seethese guys going out after work, getting drunk. All theywant is their little toys. They're doing the same thing asthe guys in the joint and they don't even see it.Blindness. I'm on the outside, looking in and I don'tknow if I want to be a part of it.Other correctional officers described having been on the periphery of the drugculture and described how it helped them to do the job. A correctional officerdescribed using her rebellious life experience to perform the job:Well, I actually think what has helped a lot is that I wasliving a lifestyle that a lot of these guys, the inmates, did.So I know where they're coming from. A lot of thesepeople have just got drug problems which has led toother things. So I can relate to that kind of thing.Another correctional officer reflected on the meaning of the unhappy eventsin her life. She sees herself as a self-reliant survivor who grew from her negativeexperiences. She made reference to her own strengths and capacity. She, too, usedher experience in an everyday understanding of life:52My childhood experience was that I was a fighter. Yeah,I was beaten. Yeah, I was raped, sexually abused,physically abused, emotionally abused, mentally abused,you name it. But I came out of that on my own. Ididn't end up as a street kid, I didn't end up as somedruggy or some alcoholic or whatever. Like I said, atsixteen I was working at a respectable job. I wasn't ahooker. I had my own apartment and I was buying myown furniture. To me, physical strength means nothing.One distinct characteristic was that (the women whowork at the jail) didn't lead a sheltered life. I don't thinkyou would see very many women who had an upperclass, white picket fence type family upbringing in thatkind of a job. They had quite similar backgrounds tomine in one way or another. They all had inner strengthin that they didn't feel sorry for themselves, they didn'tdwell on the past. They turned it around and used it asa positive thing. To grow. It allowed them to give thatstrength and an understanding of other individuals. Idon't care if it's the jail or in a counselling job whereyou don't have to worry about wearing a chair over yourhead, you still need to be able to read people correctlywithin the first five minutes of meeting them. That'simportant.Not only did correctional officers tend to report backgrounds that wereunfavourable, for example having had abusive or alcoholic parents, having beendeserted by fathers, or having had major moves which caused them distress, theydescribed ways in which these events profoundly affected their lives. Female guardswere certainly more introspective than clerks and professionals during the interviews.It may be that guards draw on their own lives and experiences to understand anddefine their jobs. They work closely with inmates who may also have troubled pasts.They are working in a social context characterized by conflict and a degree ofpersonal risk and have time to be reflective: they work alone; the job is boring. Thejob is not one that is usual for women, so they have few role models. They have to53develop their own understanding of reality and draw on their life experiences to doso.It seems that correctional officers value individuality highly. Correctionalofficers appear to have a tendency to see things in individual terms. While their lifeexperiences give them the tenacity to survive in highly isolating and difficultcircumstances, this tendency also puts a huge burden on the individual. Their strongsense of individual responsibility appears to make them assume responsibility fordealing with challenges on their own. In other words, their belief system says theymust rely on their own resources.Survivors of abuse or dysfunctional families may be better able to cope in theharsh environment of a jail. Not only are they able to "read" or assess people, theyhave developed the ability to cope in conflict-prone situations. Bass and Davis(1988:40, 45) note that "survivors" of abuse excel in emergency oriented jobs.Female correctional officers, too, have the ability to cope in crisis, stress-pronesituations.In conclusion, all the women who work in the jail have much in common.They hear about the job in the same way, often by word of mouth. They needed ajob, heard about an opportunity and applied for it without giving it much thought.Some had no idea what the job would be like, or even that it was in a jail. Theyaccept the job for the money. Yet women who work as correctional officers aredifferent in some ways from other women who work in the jail. The differencesappear early in life. Guards tend to have early aspirations to non-traditional jobs,and tend to have a wide variety of job experience. They are younger. Guards are54much more likely to report disrupted early lives. They are survivors. When anopportunity presented itself in the form of a highly non-traditional job, femalecorrectional officers decided to give it a try.55CHAPTER 6: THE WORK ENVIRONMENT OF THE JAILThis chapter focuses on the work environment. The chapter begins to addressthe question of the basis of solidarity and differences between male and femaleguards. It also probes the question of what it is like to be a guard. The chapterincludes a comparison of female guards with clerks, nurses and professionals in thejail regarding attitudes toward the job, supervisors and the jail itself. Thiscomparison differentiates the impact of being a female working in a jail from beinga female guard in a jail.Although correctional officers face the difficulties that other women face whenthey do "men's" jobs, the problems of women guards are subsumed by theaggravations and distress of working in a jail. A jail environment produces de-moralization and a sense of frustration for both inmates and workers. Majorcomplaints from workers are related to an organizational culture characterized by alack of promotional opportunities, by a paramilitary hierarchy which fosters a lackof autonomy, by what guards refer to as "negativity" and by social isolation.Ironically, these rather negative attributes promote comradeship and a sense ofsolidarity among guards.Almost every women I interviewed complained about some aspect of theinstitution. When I asked my respondents to describe the worst things about the jobthey list a broad range of issues: management indecisiveness; the pay; perceivedfavouritism in promotions and job assignments; individuals who are perceived tohave been promoted beyond their experience and skill levels; supervisors who are56supported by senior managers even when they are perceived by guards to be clearlywrong; managers who are seen as "gods"; isolation; boredom; budgetary restraint and"bean counters" who make inappropriate policy without consultation; and theslowness of the bureaucratic process. In contrast to this overwhelmingly negativelist, one woman reported that there is "nothing negative about the job".Correctional officers are working within systems dominated by seniority, unioncontracts, volumes of written rules and regulations, and well-defined areas ofresponsibility. Systems of rules are developed that govern behaviour and ensurediscipline, as well as consistent and effective responses to crisis situations, with astrong emphasis on security and control.Power resides at the top of the hierarchy. Correctional officers are supervisedby Principal Officers (POs) who in turn are supervised by Senior Correctional Officers(SCOs). At the time of writing, two women were employed as senior correctionalofficers. The administration or management component consists of three maledirectors. The jail is a pyramidal hierarchy with a clearly defined chain of command.Policies are developed at the top of the hierarchy and passed down through thechain of command to be sometimes met with resentment by line officers. Officersare expected to follow orders from supervisors or face charges of insubordination.A correctional officer commented: "They (managers and supervisors) have the powerto squash you like a bug or raise you like a star".Another characteristic of a pyramidal hierarchy is lack of opportunity, as thereare few supervisors and many line correctional officers. Lack of opportunity hasincreased as the government reduced spending and jails have been subjected to57massive restraint policies. For example, some positions were declared redundant andhave not been re-opened. Many senior officials accepted early retirement packagesduring times of restraint and were replaced by younger individuals who are unlikelyto retire soon. Current middle managers are relatively young. As a result,opportunities for advancement for present or new employees at the bottom of thehierarchy are reduced.Many guards suspect that power in the jail is used unfairly, particularity inreference to promotions. For example, many feel that promotions are based onfavouritism rather than merit. Some correctional officers are cynical aboutpossibilities for advancement, believing that only "brown nosers", "sucks" or those"good at political games" would be promoted.The lack of opportunity is complicated for female officers. Correctionalmanagement has reported an intention to promote more women. Women, however,fear a backlash if they appear to be promoted too quickly. Several women expressedthe unsolicited opinion that women in general should not be promoted beyond theirskills and levels of experience. Typically they felt "I don't want to be promotedbecause I'm female. I want to be promoted because I'm good". They expressedstrong, negative feelings about affirmative action initiatives. They fear such initiativeswould further isolate them and breed even more resentment from men. They werenot moved by my suggestion that more women in senior levels will change theworkplace in any substantial way.In a jail, lack of opportunity is not balanced by other rewards, such as esteemor prestige. The job is characterized by boredom punctuated by highly stressful,58although infrequent, potentially dangerous incidents. The job carries a great burdenof responsibility, but little recognition. For example, should there be a suicide, anassault, a hostage taking or a riot, the officer's actions will be the subject ofinquiries, media and perhaps police and judicial scrutiny. Yet, there are fewchannels to gain recognition. It is what a correctional officer described as "athankless job with few pats on the back."Because the operation of a jail is dependent on routine and written policiesand procedures and because power is concentrated at the top of a hierarchy, thereis little room for independent action. The correctional officers I interviewedexpressed a high degree of cynicism about their work. They have few opportunitiesto demonstrate innovation and describe a work environment characterized byfeelings of demoralization, inconsistent messages and feelings of isolation.Women consistently described "negativity" as the worst thing about the jail."Negativity" is a term widely used by guards as a means of understanding the socialrelations and prevalent attitudes in the institution. The terms "negativity" and"negative" are used to define typical attitudes of correctional officers and inmatesalike and encompasses any number of chronic complaints about working in a jail:The worst thing about the job is the negativity.Negativity from the inmates and negativity with staffand, I think, a lot of frustration with management.Maybe not getting much support from management onissues. (Correctional officer)59The worst thing was that when somebody was negative,they were the most negative of negatives. I mean likewhether they were prisoners or they were staff. It wasjust unbearable. There were some really rotten peoplethere, on both sides of the bars. Because you have tohave something positive when you go to work to adifficult job. You need some balance for the rottenthings. By the end I couldn't find it. (Librarian)"Negativity" is also tied to feelings about prisons and their ability to rectifyproblems of crime. A jail is a place in which people, some of whom havecommitted heinous crimes which violate the rights of others, are held against theirwill. Some officers expressed a feeling of futility about incarceration. This isespecially an issue in a remand centre. Given the pre-trial status of inmates, fewprograms are offered. Little work is available for prisoners and rehabilitation isvirtually non-existent. Several correctional officers pondered what it would be liketo work in an institution housing sentenced individuals, hopeful that these would bemore than mere warehouses for inmates.Boredom, combined with "negativity", was a major source of jobdissatisfaction for most correctional officers. Correctional officers may not leave theirpost. They have little variety in day to day tasks. My respondents bemoaned thedull, repetitive nature of the job:It's kind of a stagnant job. There aren't any rewards,number one and it's just boring. I try not to let it getboring, I'll do things so that I don't get bored. It's justa stagnant job that doesn't get you anywhere and thereare no rewards in it. (Correctional Officer)60Workers feel that criticism will have negative consequences. They will bebranded as chronic complainers. If an individual is unwilling to follow orderswithout question, they risk being seen as trouble makers and will be forced out ofthe organization. A correctional officer explained: "It's tough in there, but you smileand grin and bear it and you don't say anything wrong and you don't do anythingwrong and you're fine."One might argue that the unhappiness these women report suggests that theyare merely a few malcontents unsuited to the job. Even more, one might argue thatthe very characteristics which led women to the job pose problems once they getinto it. Women who work as correctional officers are in some ways rebels, risktakers and independent. There is a tension between the discipline imposed by thebureaucracy and values and characteristics of the women who have chosen to workwithin it. This is too simple an explanation for their sense of frustration, however.Negative opinions about the jail are widely held by guards. The difficulties,resentments and frustrations the group of women I interviewed parallel thecomplaints described by male guards in the academic literature. The informaldiscussions I had with male officers point to the same issues. Lastly, clerks andlibrarians expressed similar frustrations.Tannenbaum (1966:39-44) writes that persons at higher levels in anorganization are generally more satisfied with their jobs. This satisfaction is relatedto authority, status and skill. Tannenbaum writes:These highly involved and interested persons feelrelatively little dissatisfaction regarding authority, self-61esteem, and self-actualization. It should not besurprising therefore to find them wondering occasionallywhy everyone in the organization does not have thesame enthusiastic view they have. On the other hand,persons on the bottom of the hierarchy live in apsychologically depressed area, and each of them hasconsiderable support from his fellow workers for hisrelatively jaundiced view of organizational life.(Tannenbaum, 1966:46)All but two of the female guards work at the lowest ranks in the hierarchy.Those at the lowest ranks of a prison are highly replaceable. Guards work alone inunits containing up to seventeen inmates. Their authority over inmates is largelyconfined to withholding or granting small privileges or frustrating requests. If guardswish to penalize prisoners, the most readily available practice is to do so in a passivemanner. For example, "losing" a request to make a long distance telephone call,tardily delivering mail, issuing charges for minor rule infractions, "forgetting" toprocess a request.The problems of the paramilitary jail system are problems for both male andfemale guards. The organizational climate fosters frustration and cynicism for both.In a large, complex bureaucracy, the needs, and contributions of individuals are oftenoverlooked. There are few sources of recognition.It's a very biased and it's a very frustrating place towork. What I particularly feel sad about is that over theyears, some incredibly intelligent, nice, generallyconcerned people are just treated like so much flotsamand jetsam. I've seen it have an effect on their personallives and how they relate. There are some very, verygood people in corrections who are not noticed and notgiven any recognition. Men and women. They are sortof the base of the pyramid. Take them away and the62whole house of cards comes down. They just sort ofwork stoically, supporting this massive bureaucracy, orthey leave. (Correctional officer)Female correctional officers share feelings of frustration and impotence withmale peers. Shop talk and gossip are prevalent in a jail and rumours reinforce thenegative. Gossip, increased by boredom, is often about unpopular managementdecisions, anticipated policy change, and bosses. Female and male peers face thechallenges and frustrations of a difficult job. Shared frustrations have the effect ofincreasing peer solidarity.To add to the "negativity" and frustrations of the job, female correctionalofficers are sceptical about the support of managers and supervisors. Only fivedescribe managers as "very supportive", or "very much encouraging". An additionalfive describe them in more neutral terms, that is, they treat "everyone alike". Elevenreported that managers are not supportive of women in the jail. Some of thesewomen are extremely cynical about managers. Indeed, "management games" and"management politics" were significant aspects of the job described by many of thewomen I interviewed. When asked if management is supportive of women, acorrectional officer replied:No. If a SCO or PO was sitting in the room and aderogatory remark was made about women, theywouldn't say anything. You never saw uppermanagement.Another correctional officer described being at a point of distress. Throughher rage and cynicism, this woman expressed the frustrations which arise when63individual and bureaucratic needs clash. She felt her personal needs would not beeasily met by the inflexible bureaucracy and the supervisors and managers who carryout the bureaucratic mandate:I really need some time off. If I go to a supervisor they'llsay I have to go to (a director). I shouldn't have to go to"god" to get a little bit of time off. You know, I'm tryingnot to inconvenience people, but if I died tomorrow,what would it matter to them? They couldn't care lessif I dropped dead tomorrow.A librarian explained:I think the very top people were so removed withadministrative things, I didn't find much assistance fromthem. I don't know if that was because of the burden oftheir duties or what. I found the SCOs were a differentmatter. I found that some were very good and otherswere not. I didn't think negative feelings about womenwere very obvious. I think it was more subtle. I thinka lot of them had very old fashioned ideas about womenand women's abilities and I don't think there wasanything really blatant that you could point your fingerat, but I think the general feeling wasn't that supportiveof women.A correctional officer was more blunt:I don't think upper management is really aware of whatgoes on. I think they're all caught up in budgets andethics and standards and have got their heads buried ina bunch of manuals. I don't think the prison system isanti-female. That would be a stupid statement. I thinkthey (managers) have got bags over their heads.64The women who were most likely to see managers as supportive were thosewith higher status, a degree of autonomy, and those with access to persons inpositions of power. For example, those women who had been promoted were morecommitted to the organization and less critical of it. They have a greater degree ofindependence, move more freely about the building, and make important decisions.Similarly, contrasting junior clerks with relatively privileged directors' secretaries andnurses illustrates the relationship between access to those in power, feelings ofsatisfaction and of autonomy.Most clerks have a low status, low paying job. They expressed a feeling ofbeing "caught in the middle" between management and correctional staff. Clericalworkers in junior positions were prone to describe frustrations with the workplaceand with management. Their work is undervalued. Clerks are "part of the frame-work. They're just ignored. They're not seen as part of what's going on". Yet thetasks they perform have a significant impact on the lives of everyone in the jail. Forexample, clerks handle payroll. A late cheque can have disastrous effects on thefamily budget, plans, and mortgage payments. The clerk receives the brunt of angerif such a situation occurs. Yet, when checks are on time, it is taken for granted.Clerks describe a lack of communication, and continuity. Supervisors in thejail, Principal Officers and Senior Correctional Officers, work rotating shifts.Authority therefore changes from day to day as different supervisors require clerks tocarry out tasks in different ways. This was a source of frustration. A clerk lamented:"There's a lot of discouragement and no encouragement" and a prevailing feeling of65distrust. People are loathe to engage in meaningful communication about importantmatters:Basically for anybody to work you need some kind ofcontinuity, whereby if you know that if you have aproblem that you think is genuine and real, you have aperson you can go and sit there and talk about it. Ithink people are so afraid that someone is going to tryand hang them. And that really is unfortunate, becauseall that does is lead to a whole pile of holes in thesystem. (Clerk)The sentiments described by clerks is in sharp contrast to the perceptions ofthe directors' secretaries. Directors' secretaries have access to people in positions ofauthority with whom they can share their concerns and describe being treated with"dignity and respect".Directors' secretaries are in a relatively privileged position. They have a greatdeal of knowledge about important matters and describe themselves as having accessto managers, opportunities not available to other workers. A directors' secretarydescribed her relatively privileged position:They've always encouraged something further, moreadvancement, achieving your goals. They're veryencouraging. I was really impressed. They'reexceptional. They would help you every inch of theway. The greatest reward was being treated very welland being included in all the decisions and beingvalued.Like the directors' secretaries, nurses work in a situation with a relatively largedegree of autonomy compared to clerks. Both of the nurses I interviewed compared66their working conditions favourably to those of nurses in hospitals. Nurses workingin the jail report that they have a great deal of independence, and use the full rangeof their training. They work in a clearly "helping" relationship to inmates, diffusingsome of the more hostile reactions which correctional officers are prone to:Nursing here is more independent than in a hospital.The doctor is only here part time. There is morerespect, more of a collegial relationship with thepsychologist and the psychiatrist. In a hospital, I'd neverfelt very respected as a nurse. I saw nurses being putdown by doctors. The hierarchy here doesn't botherme. Some nurses might say "How can you work in sucha dirty place and with those kind of people?" I felt moreviolated working in a hospital. There's more dirt in theform of faeces, blood, urine. Here the inmates are all(medically) independent. I find it harder to take abusefrom the general public.(I tell new nurses) once they start working as a nurse ina prison, they won't want to go back anywhere else ifthey stick it out for awhile. You have got so muchresponsibility. In hospitals, the doctors can be verygrandiose and so can some of the nurses. When you'realone (in the prison) on night or afternoon shifts, youmake decisions. There's a lot of confidence andresponsibility that you don't get in other places. Theexperience that you get is phenomenal.In summary, this chapter addresses the questions of solidarity and differencesbetween female correctional officers and their male peers. Further, it begins toaddress the question of what it is like to be a jail guard. Working in a jail meansfeeling like a very small cog in a huge bureaucratic machine. Feelings of frustration,boredom and powerlessness are widespread. Feelings of satisfaction are closely tied67to autonomy and access to powerful persons within the hierarchy. The frustrationsof the job result in peer solidarity, but solidarity which is often based on theunpleasant aspects of the job. These frustrations, boredom and isolation make guardsfeel increasingly sympathetic to others in the work place, and perhaps more tolerantof behaviour that would otherwise be unacceptable.68CHAPTER 7: WORKING STYLES OF MALE AND FEMALE GUARDSLike the previous chapter, this chapter addresses the commonality anddifferences between men and women who work as guards and what it is like to workas a guard. The emphasis, however, is on how the working styles of male andfemale guards differ. The chapter explores the ways in which female guards describebeing treated as "different" from their male peers and are consequently excludedfrom systems of support and esteem.Guard work can be divided into three general types of tasks: tasks involvedwith life maintenance, tasks pertaining to social relations and tasks related to securitymatters. A discussion of these tasks, including a discussion of the use of force, isimportant because it illustrates how women are successful in this job. it is importantto understand that physical prowess and size are not more important thancommunications ability in performing the job. This discussion illustrates the valueof the skills women bring to the job and questions an important rationale that menuse to argue for the exclusion of women from men's prisons.Guards perform activities associated with what might be called lifemaintenance or biological necessity. Guards deliver food on trays to inmates, issueinstitutional clothing and mediate access to medical and psychological services.Given that large groups of people are confined to a limited physical space, a degreeof cleanliness is necessary. Guards ensure inmates' compliance with cleanlinessstandards. Many of my respondents mentioned the unpleasant task of ordering"grown men to clean pubic hairs off their toilets".69The skills needed to achieve these ends can be performed by a person ofeither sex. They are largely dependent upon fairness and common sense. Moreoverit could be argued that stereotypically female attributes of empathy and listeningfacilitate the tasks. For example, one life maintenance task relates to the preventionof suicide. This task requires a high degree of listening skills, empathy and theability to evaluate and interpret the meaning of communication.Second, guards perform tasks pertaining to social relations. These encompassrelations between inmates and other inmates, inmates and guards, and inmates andothers such as lawyers, courts, counsellors and family. For example, within the livingunit there are struggles for power in the inmate hierarchy. Inmates bully andintimidate other inmates. Some inmates are ostracized as "rats" or "skinners", theyhave broken the inmate code by informing on other prisoners or are known to havecommitted a crime against women or children. Guards are charged with protectingthese inmates from harm.The skills required to maintain order in social relations include observationand monitoring. As well, a high degree of communications skills and skill atmediating disputes is the preferable way of dealing with the tensions that arise.Words and tone of voice are tools which can influence the climate and degree of co-operation. Orders given in a manner which belittles the recipient promote resistanceand hostility.A third and last set of tasks relate to what might be called security matters.These include surveillance, transferring inmates from place to place, searching forcontraband including drugs, weapons, or items that might assist in an escape. The70tasks required to fulfil the security role may include the application of physical forceto restrain an inmate from escape or from harming himself or others. This alsoincludes responding to relatively dramatic episodes such as hostage takings, riots,escapes, or assaults. These episodes are not only dramatic, but relate to the primaryfunction of incarceration—confining inmates in captivity in a secure manner. Theseepisodes are relatively rare events. A correctional officer remarked:You sit there for maybe six weeks at a time. Its like"Hey, boss, what time is it?", "Hey, boss, do I have to goto court?" Its like a vegetable job and then all of asudden, bang, Emergency. Your adrenaline goes, youdon't know if you're going to have a riot or not...Again it can be argued that the skills required to perform these tasks are notsex-typed. They can be performed by members of either sex. Searching forcontraband is highly dependent upon experience and knowledge, not gender. Themost important task is acquiring information and observing. For example in the caseof contraband, one needs to know who is likely to have contraband and where theyare likely to hide it. An inmate might well conceal contraband outside a cell ratherthan risk being caught with it on his person or in his cell. The history of theindividual inmate may be of primary importance in determining whether he is likelyto be an escape risk or if he is dependent upon drugs.The use of force in a jail is the exception. Sykes noted that the use of forceis a "grossly inefficient" means of channelling conduct and that the ability of officialsto "physically coerce inmates into compliance" is "something of an illusion" innormal daily affairs and "doubtful" in emergency situations (Sykes, 1966:49).71The job of prison guard can be dangerous. Prison disturbances, riots, hostagetakings and fights between inmates happen. Even though the use of force is theexception rather than the rule, it is paramount that officers respond adequately.Death or injury may result to staff or inmates. For example, an incident mightescalate from a confrontation between two people to a full-scale riot. Correctionalofficers report that most emergencies turn out to be false alarms. An electronicbeeper may have been accidentally activated or a fight between inmates has resolveditself by the time the officers get there, a fire alarm was accidentally set off, and soon.In any event, officers do not respond alone. The hours of practice for anemergency ideally result in a unified response. In a disturbance, the sight of a well-rehearsed group of guards working in unison resembles an intimidating, powerfulmachine. Inmates respond by quietly complying to commands. In crisis situations,the individual size and strength of the officer is not as important as the discipline andco-ordination of the group. When an emergency situation involves a single officer,respondents pointed out that a man would not be able to defend himself any betterthan a woman could defend herself should he be attacked by a large group ofinmates. A correctional officer noted: "The reality of the situation is the menthemselves are there on a unit with 15 or 17 or 13 prisoners. I mean what are theygoing to do either?" The day to day activities of correctional officers are farmore stereotypically female than one might suppose. In my own experience, I wasstruck by the ease with which I could put my skills of parenting teenaged boys to usein the prison: up in the morning; make your bed; share the television; don't fight72over the telephone; meal time; bedtime; laundry. Hassles are over seemingly pettyissues which take on importance in the context of confinement and speak loudlyabout the child-like role that inmates are forced to assume in prison. I can recallinmates responding to a request by replying "O.K., mom".One of the features which makes this jail different from other prisons whichhave been the subject of research is its status as a remand centre. The inmates areinnocent until proven guilty and cannot be compelled to work. There are fewprograms of any sort. In the words of one of the directors:We started from the premise that the function of theremand facility was to hold people in safe and securecustody. That was the only mandate that we receivedfrom the courts. We don't have a mandate to punishpeople and we don't have a mandate to rehabilitatepeople. We don't have a mandate to treat people. Allthe courts have said is we want you to hold this personin secure custody and provide them at the time andplace that they're required for their trial.This translates into boredom for both inmates and guards. Most inmates areheld for a few days, some for years. It is not surprising that almost without exceptionthe correctional officers I interviewed describe the role of the living-unit officer as"babysitting". Officers assigned to the living units may spend the entire shift lockedin with prisoners who may be uncommunicative or hostile, and who have little todo. Inmates almost certainly do not want to be locked up. Newly incarceratedinmates face an uncertain future. They are separated from family support. They areforced into communal living with up to sixteen other men.73Officers are alone and unarmed. They communicate with the central controlarea of the jail by telephone. Each has an electronic beeper in case of anemergency. Except for coffee, lunch breaks and occasional telephone calls fromother parts of the jail, they have little interaction with other prison workers. Somefemale guards contrasted their working style to the style of male guards. Correctionalofficers, nurses and librarians all reported that women have a different way of dealingwith inmates and inmates respond to them in a different way. Other studies havefound women officers are better than men in "cooling down" angry inmates, althoughmale officers were seen as better by both inmates and other officers in breaking upfights and in other violent confrontations (Zimmer, 1986; Szockyl, 1989; Pollock,1986).The idea of a "male" and "female" approach to guard work is a generalization.Not all men can be clustered together. Neither can all women. There are significantdifferences between individuals of both sexes. Many of my respondents pointed outthat not all women are sensitive and compassionate and not all male correctionalofficers are aggressive.Most women perform the job with a less aggressive style not necessarily outof preference, but because of different life experiences and physical limitations. Mostwomen are smaller than most men. They simply respond to differences resultingfrom their smaller stature. Female correctional officers are, therefore, at a physicaldisadvantage to men. As children they likely had less experience in contact sportsthan their male colleagues. Women are socialized to fulfil a more helping ratherthan aggressive roles. Women are expected to be care givers and nurturers.74The female correctional officers I interviewed object to the stereotypical"nurturing" image of their approach to the job. They see themselves as being ableto carry out their duties in an objective, professional manner. Rather than bringingsomething additional to the job in the form of nurturing, they describe an absence,that is a lack of aggression. They strive to perform the legitimate tasks of the jobwithout bullying or being bullied. They strive to influence others (inmates) in amanner that does not elicit an angry response and maintains a degree of respect.They do not seek to injure, but to solve interpersonal problems. This manner ofacting might therefore be described as assertive rather than either passive oraggressive.Women use different skills than men. They are able to secure inmatecompliance with rules and regulations but use a different set of skills than men do.They rely more heavily on verbal skills and intuition. They are more likely to talkout problems, and perhaps, diffuse potential violence:Just because a man has been doing it longer, doesn'tmean he's been doing it better, you just have a differentway of doing it. I think they rely more on their machomuscular strength, where women don't have that andthey don't need it to get along. (Correctional Officer)Usually the guys that say there is no room for women incorrections are the knuckledragging type. A few of themale staff are like that, I don't think the majority are.They still (perform) in the knuckledragging and almostHitlerish dictatorship they think they have over theseinmates and that's how they act. So my way, mymethods of getting my work done are different, they'rea softer method because if I went up to some guy and75said "If you don't smarten up, I'm going to smack yourhead off" or something, they're not going to listen to me,right? So obviously I have to do it a different way.(Correctional Officer)A librarian described her interaction with inmates in this way:Being a female helped to keep the aggression levelsmuch lower. Even though the prisoners are verychauvinistic, most of them are kind of protective of thefemale staff. There wasn't a lot of ego to deal withbecause I was a woman. I didn't feel a strong sense ofdanger from most of the prisoners, I didn't feel that atall.Another indication that women perform the job of jail guard in a differentmanner is that they rely more heavily on the internal "charge" procedure. Inmatesalleged to have breached a jail rule face a disciplinary hearing. Punishment for arule infraction might include a reprimand, a loss of privileges, or a period ofconfinement in a segregated cell. A director notes that women are more likely tocharge an inmate with an infraction of the rules and regulations, suggesting that thisindicates that they also may receive more challenging behaviours from inmates thanmen do. The idea that female officers are more likely to charge an inmate may,however, suggest that female officers are more likely to rely on established,legitimatized means of discipline rather than some other means.There are benefits to women's style of doing the job. The skills employed bymen and women complement one another. Women humanize the workplace insmall ways by establishing less aggressive relationships with inmates. There are otherbenefits to a less aggressive style of doing the job. If issues are dealt with by76negotiation rather than by the use of force, there is less risk of physical harm toinmates and officers alike and less likelihood of allegations of undue force beingbrought forward.Female guards may have a more proactive approach. Women may be betterable to predict and contain a confrontation. A situation may not escalate to a pointat which physical restraint is required. A potential crisis may be resolved orminimized, and therefore be largely unrecognized and unrecorded. It becomes anon-event. A physical confrontation is quite clearly a more noticeable, identifiableevent than a situation that has been diffused. Women are also more likely to bewilling to listen. By listening, they are able to determine the concern andsubsequently act upon it, forestalling frustration. Women generally have greaterverbal ability than men. They may be more willing to enter into discussions withinmates. This may mean that inmates feel their complaints are heard. With women,as they point out, there is not a clash of ego, or a need to prove who is bigger orstronger.Some male guards accept female guards as competent in performing the dayto day tasks of the job. My respondents reported that many men express concernsthat women will not be able to back men up should a crisis arise. These menexpress the opinion that women should step aside during an emergency. At thispoint the job becomes real "men's work". Yet female correctional officers reportedthat once a situation progresses to the point of needing to take physical risks, theyare willing to do so. Although only one of the correctional officers I interviewed77expressed reservations about becoming involved in a physical confrontation, theyreported that some men simply do not believe that women can or will protect them:(One of the major obstacles was) having to prove myselfand having to show people that just because I'm awoman didn't mean that I couldn't do my job. I coulddo it just as effectively as anybody else. The othermajor obstacle was that a lot of my co-workers wouldsay "I think you're competent and you could do yourjob, but if we ever had an emergency situation, I wouldbe really concerned because I don't think you would beable to back me up". And it was always "Well, whycan't I back you up?" "Well, you know, because you'rea woman, you're more vulnerable, you're more weak".(Correctional officer)Furthermore, it is the larger men that are sent to any physical confrontationin preference over both women and smaller men. A correctional officer noted thatwhen the OIC (Officer in Charge) receives the signal that a disturbance is takingplace, he or she quickly looks at the list of who is on duty and sends in "the tallestguys, the strongest guys, the fastest guys" to handle the problem.Female correctional officers reported that in an emergency situation some menadopt a protective, chivalrous attitude towards women. When a crisis arises, womenare sometimes not called upon to assist. Female correctional officers resent thistreatment. When female correctional officers receive unwelcome protection, theyfeel they are seen as a liability and resented for not pulling their share of risks. Theyfeel that they appear favoured. In some situations, male officers protect womenrather than dealing with the situation at hand. In such circumstances, female officers78do not have the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and their assistance isunderutilized. One correctional officer illustrated:There's a fight going on in the unit, an officer is beingattacked. Jump on the elevator. I leap out the door.I'm the second person out the door and a PO grabs me.I mean physically grabs hold of me. Says "Get back,don't go in there". Well, there's two people taken outof action right there. Me and my immediate authorityfigure. I was just barely controlling myself. Heobviously didn't control himself. "Just get the hell out ofthe way. Don't hold me back. Don't try and shield me.It's O.K. You're going to endanger yourself trying toprotect me."Peer pressure is exerted on women to conform to male norms in jobperformance. Female correctional officers reported that they had difficulties withsome male correctional officers about the way they perform the job. Thosecorrectional officers who perform the job in an aggressive manner were highlycritical of the way women perform the job:You get a lot of stuff were they (male officers) tease youabout being a social worker and all this kind of stuff.Being a "social worker", it's taboo to be a social workerbut, you know, that's the kind of thing they call you."Prisoner activist" and all this kind of stuff just becauseyou don't do the dictatorship over the inmates and treat(an inmate) like a person you're looked down on.(Correctional officer)If someone was confronting me, I'd just try and calm thesituation down, even though inside I was feelinganxious. A lot of times if you were too nice, peoplewould pick up on it, and they would want to abuse you,and that would be prisoners. And a lot of times if youwere too nice, a male co-worker would say "Well, you79shouldn't do that because if you give him (an inmate)extra socks, that means I'll have to give him an extrapair of socks, and I don't want to do that". It's that kindof thing, that kind of pettiness. I wasn't even sure howmanagement felt about it. I don't know if we wereencouraged to be like that. And I'm not saying goingout of your way to be nice, just responding nicely."Could you please make your bed?" Other staffmembers would say "You're telling a prisoner 'Please?"(Correctional Officer)Peer pressure is an important means of social control in the jail in anotherway. Physical prowess, and a willingness to enter into physical confrontations, bringesteem and peer acceptance. The male culture of the jail admires prowess. Unusualincidents break the monotony of the job. Such incidents are bragged about andbecome the stuff of work place legends. Participants in a crisis have a place in jailhistory and culture. Boisterous storytelling reinforces comradeship and has acathartic effect. Guards undergo intensive practice which emphasizes "what if"scenarios. Guards all likely have had private thoughts about the potential risks of thejob and fears about what might happen to them should they be taken hostage orinvolved in a riot. An actual crisis event is an opportunity to demonstrate skills andabilities. Performance during a crisis is, therefore, a significant way of gainingrespect and peer acceptance. When women are kept out of such situations, they arekept out of one means of gaining acceptance. Peer pressure is an important meansof social control in a jail. Peer pressure is also significant in determining whetheror not women participate in a given incident. When several guards respond to anemergency, they take cues from the behaviour of colleagues, especially supervisors:80(If there is an emergency) a woman usually has to makeherself available in a sense when the going gets rough.Say "Lookit, I'm here, I'm available and I just want tohelp my team, my partner as much as you do. So don'tdisqualify me because of your opinion". They respondwith reluctance, hesitation, anger, concern, and then alot of them they'll say "Go for it". If you get onemember, particularly if he's senior and he shows thattype of response, then the others will follow suit.(Correctional officer)In practice, male guards often assume a paternalistic stance towards femaleofficers. They act in a fatherly or brotherly manner. They provide protection, butnot respect and responsibility, reinforcing their inferior role and difference:(With some male officers), it was almost like "my babysister" kind of thing where, God forbid if anyone elsesaid anything bad about you. Or if a con even raised aneyebrow, that's it, big brother's there, and look out. Oryou'd have the other side where there were men thatjust strictly felt women do not belong in prisons, womenshouldn't be here and you'd be constantly criticized.You'd get your partner saying "Well, I hope nothinghappens, because I sure as hell wouldn't want you to bethere to protect me". (Correctional officer)In summary, men and women bring different skills to the job. Women reportthat they generally perform the job with less aggression than some men. The lessaggressive supervision style that the women generally assume is not valued orrecognized as highly as the more physical male approach. Men devalue the waywomen perform the job and attempt to exclude women's participation in a significantpart of the job. Men offer paternalistic protection and tend to treat women as tokens.Conflicts arise over differing supervision styles and a feeling that women are not81competent in the physical aspects of the job. Women are judged by male standards.Their skills, as a result, are under-utilized and depreciated.Some men see women as unsuited to work as correctional officers, yet mostof the tasks guards perform do not require a great deal of physical strength. Theskills and experience women bring to the job, primarily interpersonal communicationskills, are effective in the day to day tasks of a correctional officer. Furthermore,women are effective in a crisis, largely because emergencies are dealt with by agroup, rather than individual, response.82CHAPTER 8: PERSONAL AND SEXUAL HARASSMENTThis chapter addresses the problems of harassment in the jail. The questionsI attempt to answer include: Do women face harassment in the jail? What formsdoes the harassment take? If they are harassed, do female guards complain about it,and if not, why not? In what ways does the fact that the work place is a jailcomplicate the problem of harassment?Recent policy developments in other large institutions and precedence inacademic research about female guards include both personal and sexual harassment.For example, the University of Victoria and Douglas College (University of Victoria,1991; Douglas College, 1992; 7 July 1992) have recently revised their policy toinclude both personal and sexual harassment. Policy makers at Douglas Collegedescribe "Personal Harassment" as conduct which causes a person "substantialdistress" and includes assault, intimidation and discriminatory behaviour (DouglasCollege, 7 July, 1992:4). Correctional Services Canada (Canada: March, 1991:4)defines harassment as:Any improper behaviour directed at you that you findoffensive and that the other person knew or oughtreasonably to have known would be unwelcome.Harassment can be a remark or gesture, made once ormany times, that demeans, belittles or causes personalhumiliation or embarrassment. It can be from anyone,including a colleague, supervisor or subordinate.83In the most exhaustive study of female guards working in "men's" prisonsZimmer (1986: 90-91) writes:...the negative attitude and behaviour of male guards andsupervisors serve as the primary obstacles to a successfuland easy adjustment to the job. No woman failed tomention opposition and harassment by male colleagueswhen discussing the difficulties she encountered uponfirst entering a men's prison and for many women,negative male behaviour has continued throughout theirperiod of employment.Zimmer goes on to say:A great deal of the men's direct opposition to women istoo subtle to be classified as sexual harassment andinstead constitutes what Mary Rowe (1981) and KarenBogart (1981) call 'micro-inequities.' (1986:95).Like personal harassment, sexual harassment has a negative impact on thevictim. It can be blatant or subtle. Sexual harassment may include propositions,touching, pinching, sexual assaults, or rape. Unwelcome advances or invitations maybe accompanied by threats or suggestions that there will be negative consequencesfor non-compliance. Equally important, sexual harassment includes unwelcomeremarks, crude jokes that cause embarrassment, sexist remarks or insults, displays ofpornographic or derogatory pictures or jokes, sexual teasing, references to maleprowess and suggestive comments (Aggarwal, 1987:7). These may not be directedspecifically at an individual but produce a "poisoned environment" which is bothhostile and intimidating to women (Aggarwal: 81),84Sexual harassment legislation grew out of human rights statutes in Canada andthe United States. Legislation did not initially specifically recognize sexualharassment as a form of sex discrimination. The term "sexual harassment" was notin use until 1978 (Aggarwal, 1987:6). Since that time, the interpretation ofdiscrimination has broadened to include sexual harassment. Canadian jurisprudenceon sexual harassment began in 1980. In 1981, sexual harassment was specificallyprohibited as sex discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Code (Aggarwal,1978:23-25).Both personal and sexual harassment will be discussed in this chapter. Theinclusion of both personal and sexual harassment reflects the nature of muchdemeaning treatment female guards are subjected to. When the issue is clearlysexual harassment, I will use that term. When the respondent described an eventthat more closely resembles personal harassment, the term "harassment" or "personalharassment" will be used.I found a lack of consensus among my respondents about the issue of sexualharassment. During the interviews, almost every female correctional officerdescribed some form of discrimination including sexual harassment. They wereusually aware of it as an on-going fact of working in a prison, although many did notdefine their experiences as "sexual harassment". Some of my respondents, includingmanagers, appear to restrict their definition of sexual harassment to unwantedtouching or sexual suggestions, particularly when associated with threats or inexchange for some advancement opportunity. Others include a broader list of85behaviours, including demeaning or belittling remarks, often, but not necessarily, ofa sexual nature.Most women I interviewed reported that they did not personally receiveunwanted touching or suggestions, sexual harassment in the narrowest sense of theword, but other forms of harassment were common. When asked if sexualharassment is a problem in the jail, many replied "Not for me". The same womenoften went on to describe what they call "other harassment". This "other harassment"included physical assaults, threats, unfounded graphic sexual rumours aboutindividual women and daily doses of demeaning remarks. Women who speak ofsexual harassment in ways which include demeaning or belittling remarks, wereprone to describe it as "all day, everyday".Although women described dramatic episodes of harassment, it was mostoften an undercurrent of sexism and inequality. Much of the harassing behaviourappears to be of the subtle variety. It includes sexist remarks, insults, teasing and putdowns. The subtle type of comment may be more difficult for a supervisor to takeseriously and for a woman to prove. As well, the consequences to the harasser maybe less severe. The incident in itself may be seemingly minute. The comment canbe "excused" as a joke. A correctional officer described some male peers by saying:"They just love to bug you, constantly pick at you".Another described the social interaction between female and male correctionalofficers in this way:86(The attitude of some men is) "If you want to work in aman's job, you're going to have to take whatever wegive out". It's not you're going to take whatever wetake, it's whatever we give out. "Plus the dirtiest,rottenest, stinkiest, horribilest thing I could think up andmy friend is going to add to it, too".Correctional officers face a more generalized form of harassment which isgender-based, but that has little or nothing to do with sex or sexuality and whichmight more accurately be called personal harassment. It is gender based in that itrefers to socially defined maleness and femaleness; for example, sexist commentswhich suggest women should not work as guards. The intangible nature of these put-downs make them difficult to confront. It may be so subtle that the victim is notreally sure what is happening. This form of harassment appears to be designed toforce women from the job. A correctional officer explained:Women are not wanted in male institutions. That's it.That's the bottom line. Any woman working in a maleinstitution is going into enemy territory.Most female correctional officers do not consider profanity to be necessarilysexual harassment. The use of profanity, however, is perceived to be sexuallyharassing when it is directed at an individual woman. Correctional officers describedincidents in which inappropriate and profane language was directed at them in frontof inmates. Such incidents have the effect of seriously undermining the authority ofthe correctional officer. If an officer does not have the respect of her colleagues, itis difficult to understand how she would be able to maintain the respect of inmates.87One woman reported that an inmate asked her "Why do you let them treat you thatway?"Most correctional officers reported ignoring harassing comments. Thissometimes worked, but often did not. Inappropriate comments are especiallyproblematic when they are directed at an individual and do not stop as a result ofa verbal challenge. Eleven of the correctional officers, just over fifty percent of thegroup interviewed, reported such episodes.One form of sexual harassment involves rumours about female correctionalofficers. These include speculation about their sexual orientation and sex lives.Several reported being the victims of slanderous allegations. For example, asurprisingly large number of correctional officers reported that they are assumed tobe lesbians by people both inside and outside the criminal justice system. Acorrectional officer explained:Some women get stereotyped. We have our butch, wehave our gay stereotypes. We have our butch, we haveour gay guards. I think its just that, a stereotype. It's astereotype you have on the streets. The images thatwomen have to be tough, very masculine, very big, youknow, very bullish and although we do have a couple ofwomen like that, and we do have a couple of gaywomen, I don't think they differ very much from gaywomen that are like that on the street. I mean, theycould be working in a bakery and they could be thatway. I think it's more a perception of what women aresupposed to be. When people look at me they go"You're a guard? How could you be a guard?" Its justthat people kind of grab onto that image and they use it.Its the same as saying women shouldn't be in jail andwomen can't do the job. The only women who can arestrong and big and all that crap.88A correctional officer, assumed to be a lesbian by her co-workers, claimed thatthere can be benefits to this stereotype. She was protected from some other formsof sexual harassment by it. The very suggestion that this woman is a lesbian is initself, however, a form of sexual harassment. Her private life is speculated about andgossiped about. She is different and deviant. She is not a "real woman":The old boy network had already decided that I was alesbian, but at least that stereotype had its sanctuary.There are times I could just sit down and howl, becauseit was so stupid. Apart from being butch, and a feminist,and having penis envy, which I think is really quitestrange, I wasn't harassed in that way.Women are also rumoured to be sexually involved with both supervisors andinmates. Slanderous stories are hard to rebut. Gossip often takes place behind theback and out of hearing of the victim. Any attempt to defend oneself against suchstories only gives validity to rumour and gossip. I heard numerous rumours aboutwomen working in the jail while conducting this research. Some were reported bythe officers themselves. Typically stories describe the same set of circumstances butdiffered wildly in content, from relatively harmless to extremely serious allegations.Stories and gossip are fuelled and complicated by the practice of drinking after shifts.Alcohol is a problem in a highly stressful job. Correctional officers work shifts in astressful environment. After finishing their shifts, they want to relax and relieve thestress of the day. Drinking with one's buddies is an attempt to do this. The cure isoften worse than the disease, however. Like police, correctional officers are proneto alcoholism. Some women engage in drinking with the men after shifts, at least89occasionally. If they drink with the men, they are assumed to be promiscuous. Afavourite myth among men is that loose women get what they deserve, be it rape orharassment. There is a widely held idea that "nice" women who do not "drink withthe boys" are not harassed and that those that do probably are those who receive,and deserve, sexual harassment. Drinking after work in the local bar is widelypractised by men, but frowned on for women. A correctional officer explained:It was a strange environment to work in because goingfor a drink with the guys after work was OK, but if youwere a female, it was not what you should be doing.You shouldn't associate with people from work. Andthat's not right. I mean it wouldn't be (that way) in anyother profession. If I was working at a private agencydowntown as an investment broker, I'd go out. It(would be) no big deal and the whole office wouldn't besaying "Oh God, she's going out for a drink with theguys." It wouldn't be a big deal.Some women are personally and sexually harassed more than others, butharassment does not appear to be related to drinking after work. Women whoreported that they have at least on occasion gone "drinking with the boys" did notreport more sexual harassment or personal harassment than those who do not.These correctional officers often reported that they did not receive a great deal ofharassment and some women who do not associate at all often report it. Womenwho do participate in drinking after work were surprised that others are critical oftheir behaviour. Ironically, women who engage in drinking after work with fellowofficers tended to report a higher degree of acceptance from their peers.90Unfortunately, sexual harassment from peers is not the only serious problemcorrectional officers face. Harassment, be it personal or sexual, is even more difficultto deal with if the harasser is a supervisor. In the paramilitary hierarchy of the jailone is expected to follow orders without question. A superior's word carries moreweight. He has more access to directors and, therefore, more power. The problemsof dealing with harassment are intensified. Four women reported serious attacksdirected at them from supervisors. One correctional officer reported being taken intothe office by a supervisor:I was dragged into the Po's office. (He) proceeded toscream at me because he felt I was emasculating themen. His exact words were: "Why don't you concen-trate on being half a woman instead of trying to be aman? You're no damn good as a woman either". Hehad this incredible amount of resentment. He assuredme that I would fail, they'd beat me out of there, that Iwould get raped, I'd be beaten up, I wouldn't stand achance. He was shouting and holding his finger in myface and being extremely aggressive.Another described persistently negative incidents with a supervisor and the difficultiesit presented:He made some comments which were really, reallyblatant malice. He said he was "just joking" but in myopinion, it was not a joke, there was definitely somehate there. Maybe he's also a chauvinist, he doesn't likewomen, he's not happy with his job, people are gettingahead, doing things he might like to do and you know,no matter what he thought of the system years ago, hehas become everything that he hated about it. It wasescalating, getting worse every time I saw this individualto the point where I was starting to break down, Ithought "What the hell have I done to deserve this?" I'm91busting my ass off and I'm being treated like I don'tdeserve to be here and I shouldn't be doing this job andthat was really difficult.As well as personal and sexual harassment from colleagues and supervisors,women also reported sexual harassment from prisoners. Women reported less sexualharassment, however, from inmates than from staff. When asked to describe theworst things about the job, some women included the inmates. Issues related toinmates, however, were often not gender based. It is a "barrage of inmates passingon their resentments in life to you". Inmates challenge the authority of womenbecause they are guards rather than because they are female guards. Correctionalofficers are symbols of the authority which is depriving inmates of their liberty.Research indicates inmates generally strongly favour or are neutral aboutwomen's employment in prisons (Zimmer, 1986:10, 61-65; Pollock, 1986:91-93;Szockyj, 1989:320). Inmates report that women treat them better than men by beingless confronting and more willing to carry out duties such as handling requestswithout complaint. The prisoners, therefore, have much to gain by ensuring that thewomen remain. A correctional officer explained:I don't have problems with inmates, being female. I geta better response from them than male officers do. I getthem to do things that I want them to do without beingthat knuckledragging, domineering type of person. Theonly trouble I see myself (having) is with other officers.Women correctional officers also have more direct and effective options indealing with harassing behaviour of inmates. Correctional officers are in a position92of power over inmates. They are able to charge the inmate with a disciplinaryinfraction by way of the correctional centre rules and regulations. A correctionalofficer illustrated this:I had an inmate once, young guy, 19 or 20. (He startedspeaking to me) in front of the other inmates in the TVarea: "Hey, do you have a boyfriend? Do you makeout with your boyfriend? Do you want to make out withme?" He spent ten days in the hole (segregation). Ihaven't really had a problem since with the inmatesbecause if they ever start with me I just basically tellthem "I've sent a guy to the hole for 10 days for stufflike that, so if I was you..."I will now turn to the complex issue of complaining about harassment.Understanding why women do not complain about personal and sexual harassmentillustrates the very difficult position of female correctional officers in a jail.If a woman is harassed, either personally or sexually, a man might believe thelogical and rational thing to do is to complain about it. To a woman, it may be morerational and realistic not to complain. A woman does not complain for practical andeconomic reasons. These reasons can be divided into three general parts. First,harassment is normalized in the male culture of the jail. That is, it becomescustomary, expected behaviour, so it is viewed as having little importance. Second,it is assumed to be inevitable, just a price women have to pay for working in a jail.Third, the benefits of complaining about harassment often are outweighed by thecosts. Harassment is a no-win situation for women. The burden for dealing withharassment is placed squarely on the victim. They either tolerate it or face evengreater problems: isolation, a lack of peer support, perhaps even the loss of their job.93It might be argued that while sexual harassment takes place, it is not a seriousproblem. Granted, when asked to describe the worst things about the job,correctional officers invariably described issues like "negativity", boredom, andmanagement. Some harassing behaviour is indeed trivial, even silly at times. Femaleguards, however, get peer support for complaints about management or the boredomof the job. They do not get support for complaints about issues like sexualharassment which are primarily seen as women's issues. Men understand complaintsabout management, but they do not understand, and therefore are less likely tovalidate, issues like sexual harassment.Women can lodge complaints either through the chain of command orthrough the union, formally or informally, but few complain. A complaint initiatesthe disciplinary action against the harasser. Only one woman described making awritten complaint. Several described having had informal discussions withsupervisors about specific incidents. Sometimes the problem is rectified by informalprocesses, without any form of complaint:We were going through a doorway or something and he(a SCO) made a motion like he was going to grab myrear end. At that exact time (a director) saw him and Imust have given him (the SCO) a look to kill. (Thedirector) saw all this and I guess he spoke to him aboutit, too, and afterwards this officer came and spoke tome about it "I'm sorry. I'll never do it again. I was onlykidding. I didn't know you'd take it that way".(Correctional Officer)Only a small percentage of male correctional officers are vocally opposed towomen's presence. Unfortunately, many men are silent about sexual harassment,94signalling that it will be tolerated. This silence condones sexual harassment ofwomen and thus challenges women's legitimate right to work in the jail. Men whoare silent do not model appropriate behaviour for their peers, reinforcing thelikelihood that the culture will not change. Men reinforce the normalcy of sexualharassment by their silence. A correctional officer illustrated this theme:(The biggest obstacle) was not being accepted by yourcolleagues. The idea that women don't belong in aprison is held by a few but supported quietly by themajority. One person will make a (derogatory) commentand the others won't say anything. It's subtle, but it'sthere. (Correctional Officer)There is doubtless considerable pressure on men when witnessing harassment.Many men are supportive of women in whatever career they might choose but theycan easily become confused and angered over what they, too, see as a "no win"situation. When men do attempt to speak up about sexual or personal harassment,they, too, are isolated. A senior male officer explained:One of the reasons women are reluctant to come in (tothe service) and why they leave is the treatment theyreceive. It makes me angry. When it occurs, frequentlydisciplinary action is nonexistent or inconsequential. Asa supervisor, I try to be supportive. However, no matterwhat I did, I would be wrong. As human beings, wehave set up roles for men that have no place anywhere.It can be an isolating phenomenon for men who try tobe supportive without being patronizing.Women believe that they will be blamed for the sexual harassment. It isgenerally, but not always, men who harass. However, both men and some women95believe that if a woman is harassed she is to blame for it. They are seen to havecaused the harassment either by action or by omission, by failing to "handle" theharasser or by provoking harassment. They should have taken some action toprevent or stop the harassment. They may have given some signal that they aresexually available or promiscuous. They are perceived as "deserving" what they get.In some ways, all women are seen as "deserving" both personal and sexualharassment, by virtue of the fact that they have chosen to work in a male-dominatedfield. Harassment is seen as a normal and expected consequence of working in ajail. It is also assumed to be unstoppable. It is, therefore, dismissed as a conditionof work. Harassment becomes an excepted part of the job. It is normalized. Theonus is on women to adapt to it. A correctional officer explained it this way:It (sexual harassment) happened on a day to day basis,but I think its one of the things that women have toaccept in working in that type of environment. Forexample, an inmate came up to several staff recently andthreatened them with bodily harm, death threats oncehe's released from prison. And the choice was do theytake it outside to court? And the response from uppermanagement was "Don't bother, that's expected in yourjob". It's the same thing. It's expected. It's alsoexpected that the female staff would have to put up withsexual harassment on the job.As well, women are harassed in all manner of jobs. It is not unique to thejail. A clerk explained that the work site was irrelevant: (As a secretary) "You're justa dumb, blond bimbo. It's par for the course". A correctional officer explained "Ihave witnessed sexual harassment but, personally, I think it's normal. Whatever96there is at work, it's normal". The values of the dominant male culture become partof the belief system of both men and women.In some sense everyone is harassed in a prison, reinforcing it's normalcy.Humour is a stress reliever. A work environment characterized by long hours ofboredom and shift work seems a natural site for pranks and practical jokes. Bothmen and women become the butt of these. Joking and teasing are also used as aform of social control. New staff are tested. Once the test is passed, they are teasedless or left alone. Correctional officers explain that new recruits are teased initiallyuntil they prove themselves. If officers make mistakes, they are perceived as a threatto all and they are quickly, and sometimes mercilessly, dealt with by isolation or byteasing.Teasing is often heavily laden with sexual overtones. A female correctionalofficer provided the following example:Like we went through training and on my first day on bymyself, I basically stood around with my back to thewall, as close to the door as possible. I mean I wasvisibly nervous, I'm sure they had a great time: "Well,it's the big boss", that kind of thing. Or you get a phonecall "Yea, Miss Wilbur, Mr. Meoff there? Got him onyour unit?" "No, I don't think so." "Well, you want tocheck? First name's Jack" "Is there a Jack Meoff here?"Stuff like that, that's what other people do to you. Theinmates have a laugh. Everyone plays along with it.Furthermore, the strongly individualistic values of the women I interviewedencourage, and reinforce, the belief that they should shoulder blame. This beliefsystem reinforces the notion that people are responsible for their own fate.97Furthermore, they should be able to deal with problems on their own, so correctionalofficers may blame themselves for not dealing with the situation. A correctionalofficer explained:The first thing I do, as a rule, because I'm a female isthink "Oh, I must have done something wrong" or youtake on that guilt role or I think that's what most womendo anyway. You know you automatically assume you'vedone something wrong and you should be responsiblefor this. So without naming names or anything...It wasvery difficult for me to discern until I had someone elsecome up to me in one instance, another officer, and say"Hey, I've noticed this is happening. Why is thishappening?" and "This doesn't happen to me, why is ithappening to you? Why are you being treateddifferently and in a negative way?" and I had to stop andsay "Yeah, I guess I've sort of just been putting up withit", thinking this is the way that things should be.(Correctional officer)Similarly, correctional officers assume harassing male behaviour will be seenby supervisors and other officers as individual idiosyncrasies of the harasser ratherthan anti-woman bias. Harassment will be dismissed as an individual problem.Harassment might be viewed as an extreme form of normal behaviour, a personalstyle that cannot or should not be interfered with. As well, harassing behaviour isonly one behaviour in a range of behaviours that the individual displays. A harassermight otherwise be a valued staff member, with skills and experience, almostcertainly with more seniority than a woman would have. A harasser may be anotherwise "nice guy". An officer described such an individual. She explained:I believe that he has been around a lot longer, wouldprobably have the support of the upper management98people, people who never have had that experiencewith them, would never understand.Another explained:There's always an underlying, macabre black humour.If you make any attempt to complain it's instantly "Ohwell, its just a joke. He would do that to anybody".A man has a more legitimate, less marginal role in the organization. He iswith friends and allies. As a part of the "old boys network" his beliefs are reinforcedby the group. On the other hand, the victim may be relatively new to theorganization, and part of the numerically rare group of women. She is different,peripheral. It is assumed that men are more likely to be long-term employees, whilewomen are there for the short term. There is greater benefit in supporting the malewho is more likely to be a long-term employee. If one can assume that newemployees are targeted more for abuse until they "prove" themselves, then they areharassed at the most vulnerable point of time. A correctional officer explained hersituation:Because (I was) young and new, I mean that is a majorproblem. So forget about a career in corrections, becausenobody would want to work with me, really. And eventhe ones that did, it would always be in the back of theirminds. They would always think about it.Prisons have a strong subculture. This subculture makes complaining aboutharassment especially difficult. There is a great deal of pressure to remain loyal toother officers. Both inmates and guards have a code of behaviour which strongly99prohibits informing or "ratting" on one's peer group. A "rat" is despised for his orher disloyalty to the group. This prohibition functions to silence women even more.Women fear that they will be perceived as "rats" if they complain about harassment.A correctional officer described the culture. She also explained why the culture isprimarily a male one:I mean you've got people that are known in the institu-tion as rats, like every time you do something wrong,they run to the director's office and they're ready to tell"Oh, this guy screwed up" because they think that's totheir advantage, that it's going to make them look good.Women are as a rule more talkative, we gossip more.We might say "Oh, did you see that dress she had on".Women are more catty, but I don't know too manywomen that are back stabbers, who want to climb, to getahead of you. When I first came to the jail I could notbelieve how bad the men were, I mean bad, not catty,I mean bad. It just really blew me away that in a placewhere it's already stressful and negative and you have allthat stuff going on. (Correctional officer)Women do not complain about harassment because it is a "no win" situation.Correctional officers do not complain for practical, economic reasons. The costs ofcomplaining simply outweigh the benefits.Despite the fact that case law places the burden of ensuring a harassment-freeworkplace on the employer, the entire burden, in reality, falls on the victim. Womenmust somehow "solve" the problem: by verbal rebuke; initiating complaint and takingthe consequences (including isolation) for her action; or by leaving the job and facingthe financial consequences of doing so. A young woman with perhaps two years ofpost-secondary education may not have many job options. By complaining about1 00either personal or sexual harassment, she is putting herself in a position of choosingto either speak up or look for another job, perhaps at near-poverty wages. If theycomplain, women fear retaliation in the form of verbal abuse, poor references orevaluations. The job may become so uncomfortable that they might choose to leave.Correctional officers illustrated:Just because of the way I am, (if I complained), I wouldprobably would have been forced into a position whereI would have been very uncomfortable and would havewanted to leave. (Correctional Officer)You'd be history, one way or another. Set up to take afall. I'm not sure how far up this would extend, but POswould not be supportive. (Correctional officer)One respondent described being threatened that if she made problems for amale officer by charging him with sexual harassment, she would be blacklisted fromgovernment employment. Women have reason to believe that such threats could becarried out, particularly if the officer involved is of a higher rank or lengthy service.She went on to say:The women are really afraid to say anything. I wasthreatened twice by men that I could lose my job if Imade trouble for them. One guy told me that I could befired and that I could be blackballed from anygovernment job.By complaining, victims give up whatever control they have in the situation.Ignoring the comments or verbal retorts may have been somewhat helpful. Theymay have been able to avoid the harasser. Complaining makes the matter public.1 01The victim may now have to deal with both the harasser and unfavourable publicopinion. There are few secrets in a jail. The prison environment is prone to gossip.A correctional officer noted that before any written complaint reaches the directors,the whole jail would know about it, although the matter is between the employerand employee (harasser). There may be general knowledge about an allegation,perhaps embellished by rumour and speculation. When the union or managementbecomes involved the matter becomes public knowledge and the actions of thevictim as well as the alleged harasser will be scrutinized.Correctional officers do not have faith in the channels for complaint.Complaining involves trusting that your complaint will be taken seriously. Mostcorrectional officers expressed a lack of trust in management and a feeling thatmanagement is not supportive of women in the workplace. They would, therefore,be unlikely to feel that a matter of sexual harassment or any other matter would betaken seriously. As one woman explained: "I was physically assaulted by a malestaff. Complaining would have got me absolutely nowhere". Another correctionalofficer explained:I think women put up with a lot because of theenvironment we're in. But I also think that it's probablyhidden in the jail. You know, there was one (case) atthe jail and it was covered up by management, so Idon't think that the jail is taking it seriously, so that hasleft me sort of disrespecting management in thatparticular area. They obviously don't feel it's importantor that that person mattered. (Correctional Officer)102More than anything, women expressed a fear of isolation if they were tocomplain about any form of harassment. They would be ostracized, blamed, accusedof overreacting. Several women mentioned the great courage and strength a womanwould need to complain about harassment. A sense of isolation increases the senseof powerlessness the women feel:A lot of guys would say "You're right, but you knowwhat you're putting yourself in for." And a lot of themwould say "You're making a mountain out of a molehill". (Correctional officer)People would be reluctant because of all the heat youwould get from the male officers. I think people would,you know, isolate you and I think there'd be a lot of talkand comments and whispering when you walk into theroom and things like that. (Correctional officer)I don't know what would happen, I think people wouldsay "She can't handle it, what's she doing working here?She can't take it, this is a jail, you know". I think thewoman, I'm almost 90% sure would be shunned. "Don'tget too close to her cause you'll wind up on paper"(facing discipline). (Correctional officer)These fears are realistic. They describe the situation that women face if theydo, in fact, complain. One woman who put in an informal, unwritten complaintexplained:I was blamed. I was told I overreacted. They don't payme enough to go through that crap. In the institutionthere's a whole "we'll stick together" mentality andthere's this male bonding that goes on. I had to defendmyself constantly, my actions. (Correctional officer)1 03While it is not surprising that personal and sexual harassment takes place ina prison, as it does in other male-dominated environments, the consequences ofharassment for women are potentially higher. Guards work in a job which has apotential for violence. Guards must rely on one another for backup and support inemergencies. If an individual is seen as peripheral in any way, they may bevulnerable to inadequate back-up. Most women I interviewed did not fear that theywould not receive back-up in an emergency and some pointed out that the physicaldesign of the building would probably preclude inadequate support. This feeling wasnot universal, however. One woman reported an incident with an inmate in whichshe was left to fend for herself. She did not receive back-up, although there weretwo male officers present. "I'm wrestling with this guy and they both turned andwalked away." Another reported:I think you'd have cause to worry and I think that is aconcern, a very big one if you piss off enough people.They're not going to want to come running as hard. Imean, it was like that anyway if you were working on aunit with some asshole that didn't like working withfemales. You'd call him over to do something and he'djust take his time. You know, like: "What are yousquawking about now?"As well as being ostracized and blamed, correctional officers fear that acomplaint about harassment would reflect on how competent they are perceived tobe in their job. The primary duties of a correctional officer are, after all, supervisingand controlling the inmates, many of whom are hostile to guards. Women are1 04already suspected of not being competent to do the job. A male officer told me "Anywoman who gets harassed is a weak link". A female officer explained it this way:You don't complain. If you complain about sexualharassment then they're going to say, "What, you can'thandle yourself with the inmates?" and if you complainabout the staff "Well, what do the inmates do aroundyou?" The staff are supposed to be your friends.(Correctional officer)Another significant concern expressed by the women is the question of theultimate outcome of a complaint. Correctional officers report that the mostsignificant consequence to a harasser may be merely a transfer to another institutionwhere he will be free to harass again. Every woman who described complaining feltthat "not enough" happened to the harasser in question. The likely outcome of anycomplaint is a reprimand, a short suspension and a transfer to another jail:Making any kind of complaint would be a complete andutter waste of time. Being a woman in a maleinstitution, you walk a very fine line. You're not one ofthe boys and you're not really one of the girls. If youcomplain, obviously it's because you're female and youcan't take it. You can't work in a male environment andyou can't take the kidding and stuff that the other guystake. And they manipulate that really successfully. Youcomplain. And for what? To see him get shuffled off toanother jail, which is where he wants to be anyway?(Correctional Officer)While the courts have placed the onus on the employer to provide adiscrimination-free workplace, in reality women bear the cost of personal and sexualharassment. Women do not feel that they can complain about it. The onus is on the1 05women to deal with the harassment, to ignore harassment, to take the consequencesfor complaint, to avoid situations in which it is likely to occur.Sexual harassment is a common problem for women. Harassment can alsotake the form of non-sexual demeaning and hostile words and behaviour. The maleenvironment of the prison complicates an already complex problem. Harassmenttakes place in the context of a subculture which values group loyalty, that ischaracterized by sometimes crude behaviour and in which women are bothnewcomers and a minority. Harassment is often subtle, sometimes insidious. It isnormalized in the male culture of the jail. The costs of complaining are so high thatfew complain. It is a no-win situation which increases the burden on women whoare left to find ways to cope in a sometimes hostile environment.106CHAPTER 9: COPING IN THE MEN'S WORLD OF THE JAILThis chapter discusses how women cope with the challenges and frustrationsof working as a guard in a jail for men. Working in a jail means that women mustadapt to a predominately male culture which sees them as different and inferior.Their relationships with other officers are characterized by contradictions. Many oftheir fellow workers are supportive, many are extremely unsupportive. Womenhave to adapt to hostile colleagues, a "negative" work environment, and aparamilitary hierarchy with few female role models. Three things emerged whichdescribe how female correctional officers cope with the conflicts and contradictionsinherent in the their social situation. First, women have much in common with malepeers. Second, they accept what might otherwise be intolerable behaviour, andthird, they decide to withdraw from peers and/or the job in one way or another.These are not clearly separate classifications. Any or all of these factors might comeinto play.First, women are, to a greater or lesser extent, accepted in the workplace andhave much in common with co-workers. They have positive relations with at leastsome of their colleagues, and a great deal in common with all of them. Women area part of the workplace. They develop relationships based on common concerns andmutual assistance. They face the same challenges, risks and frustrations.Despite the hardships and frustrations of the job, the greatest rewards of thejob for correctional officers are often phrased in terms of individual empowermentor growth and the friendships they form with peers. Correctional officers gain a107sense of having grown from the job, of having been exposed to unusual experiences,of having survived in a hostile environment. One particularly introspectivecorrectional officer reflected on her life and the job. To her the job has meant:Having to look at myself. Having to really look. Not atthe job, but at myself. And not kidding myself anymore.Not saying, "I'm a tough individual, I can take this."Saying "What are my traits?" I have to accept some ofthese female traits because they're me. Not downplaythem. Say "Yeah, that's me and so is that". Not good orbad. Just me. Some of the traits I have are kind ofharsh. That's what my husband gets after me about.And yet I don't want to get rid of some of those traitsI've picked up from the building here. Harshness in away. Bluntness. Those are things I'm glad I've pickedup. Because I used to think "Oh, I don't want to hurtsomeone's feelings". Now I think that is just the way itis. If you don't like it, too bad. A little bit moreassertive I call it. My husband calls it being a bitch. I'mable to stand up for myself more. I'm quite content withthat. But there are other things I have to face up toreality with. I don't want to be in a negativeenvironment. Some people are quite happy with that.I'm not.Correctional officers described a sense of isolation from the rest of society.Jacobs and Retsky (1980: 188-189) note that "even close friends do not know whatto make of the prevailing belief that prison guards are sadistic, corrupt, stupid, andincompetent". In the introduction to a collection of articles about prisons, Ross notesthat guards are typically viewed by both the prison literature and the press as "harsh(if not sadistic), power-hungry illiterates — an ignorant, rigid, authoritarian individualwho is vigorous only when demanding inmate compliance, when opposing inmate's108rights, when criticizing management policies or when scuttling rehabilitationprograms" (1981:3).In anticipation of a negative response, correctional officers are often reluctantto disclose their occupation to acquaintances. Experience teaches guards that theyshould be wary of outsiders. An unmarried correctional officer illustrated theisolation and rejection that can take place:Women who work in prisons are like other women no matter what thejob is. But it's funny what the public image of the women who workin jails is. Myself, if I meet a man, being single, I don't tell them whatI do, or I try not to. And usually what happens is you get to this stage:"What do you do?""I work for the government""Well, what do you do?""I work for the Solicitor General""Well, what do you do?""Well, I work for corrections""Well, what do you do?"And it gets down to:"Okay, I'm a guard."I mean, finally, you get down to the last thing and its like:"Oh, really, see you later"Another correctional officer described the adverse reactions of people to thefact that she worked in a jail:(From) almost everyone I met. A lot of morbid curiosity,a lot of negative reactions. They had assumptions thatI was "obviously" a lesbian, or sort of sadistic in someway. "How could you do something so horrendous?","How could you keep those poor people locked up?".That sort of thing.109For better or worse, this isolation draws prison workers together. Only othercorrectional officers could really understand what the job is like. They will not bejudged hastily or unfairly, or be seen as "different":When I was single, of course, it was horrendous.Meeting men? Impossible, impossible, impossible. Ithink that is why we tend to socialize together, which isunhealthy in my opinion. And why we tend to marryeach other, and why the marriages don't work. Whythere is alcoholism and so on. Because the rest ofsociety tends to treat you as if you have bubonic plague.(Correctional officer)I tend to shy away from groups of women who haven'tworked in the prison system. Because sometimes I feelthat I don't talk the way other women do. That maybemy language is a little coarser or I might say somethingthat offends people because we've developed a sense ofhumour that other people outside prisons don't have.(Nurse)The women find a set of what Goffman (1963:20) calls "sympathetic others"in the workplace. Others of their kind, provide "moral support", acceptance andfeelings of being a person "who is really like any other normal person". They shareboth the experiences of the job and a sense of social isolation with others at work.The job is such that there is a constant potential for violence in the workplace.Guards rely on one another for physical support and protection. A sense of solidarityis reinforced by facing dangerous or difficult situations. The common bond helps todiffuse differences between men and women. For example, correctional officerslearn the informal rules of the job from more experienced, and often male, officers:110When I first went there they said "You know, you'regoing to lose your friends". I remember having a lot ofguys tell me that "Try to do some social functions withthe staff here because you're going to find you're notgoing to have any friends from your outside sources inabout six months". They all went through it and I endedup telling trainees that came through after me the samething. Because you do. You just tend to gear towardsthe jail "family" because in a sense you've been dividedfrom the outside society that you were with prior toworking there. (Correctional Officer)When asked to describe the greatest rewards of the job, women often pointedto their fellow guards, both male and female. Many have sought an environment inwhich they would work almost exclusively with men. They speak of the male guardsin positive, sometimes even affectionate, terms and are willing to forgive or ignorea great deal. Some guards marry one another. Others date or become friends.Although many female officers describe a small percentage of the staff as particularityoffensive or opposed to women's employment in a jail, most correctional officerscarry out their duties in a responsible and professional manner. Their behaviourtowards fellow workers, male or female, reflects this. One correctional officerexplained:The greatest rewards of my job? I would say the greatestrewards of my job are the staff that I work with. If itwasn't for the staff, and I stress staff, not management,and the way they are and the support I get, I wouldn'tbe working there.Several women volunteered that they have what might be termed significantsocial encounters with male peers that were the basis of nurturing, personal111relationships. They described friendly, informal conversations in casual situationsaway from the workplace. Ironically, many of these significant encounters take placewhen women go "drinking with the boys". The irony lies in the fact that bosses andmany women feel that women who engage in such activities are harassed more andaccepted less. Drinking in the bar, however, is the most easily accessible forum forcasual, off-the-job, social contact.Several female guards described intimate, but non-sexual, encounters whenmale colleagues told them that they respected them as workers. These appear to beextremely significant events and relationships for the individual women. They aretold they were competent correctional officers.Off-the-job encounters break down barriers so that female officers becomepeople with problems, concerns, needs and goals just like anyone else. Many oftheir most immediate problems such as shift work, bosses, inmates, and isolation, areboth familiar and shared. These encounters highlight the importance of peerrelationships in reducing isolation and in providing female correctional officers witha sense of being a legitimate member of the team. These encounters are significantbecause they can have the function of neutralizing other negative relations with malepeers. If a woman feels accepted and esteemed by at least some of her colleagues,it makes the negative reactions of others easier to handle.Some men accept individual women guards who excel at the job, but notwomen in general. There is a contradiction in their reasoning. If they are supportiveof a woman in the job, they are, of course, recognizing that a woman is capable ofdoing the job. The following illustrates this typical sentiment:112I would say a minority of men voiced that opinion (thatwomen should not work there). They treated you withthat opinion and did not care who knew about it. Buta minority. There were others that highly respected you,that voiced how much they respected me as an officerand how I handle my job, yet when we go drinking orwhatever, they'd sit there and say "but I don't thinkwomen should work in a prison". (Correctional Officer)Some women are more esteemed, and accepted, by both male and femalecorrectional officers than others and for a variety of reasons. Women who reportedbeing married to a correctional officer or involved in a romantic relationship with amale officer described this as defusing some hostility, while being an "ex" girlfriendor wife greatly increased it. Women who have some friend or relative inemployment at the jail reported that this is helpful in reducing feelings of marginalityand isolation, making the prison a more comfortable place to be. Some women arehighly esteemed because they have "proven themselves" or bring valued job-relatedexperience. Some women have a friendly and pleasing personality, or a sense ofhumour, which diffuse hostility. No doubt, some possess more skills and abilitiesthan others and are therefore more readily accepted.The second, and most frequent way women cope with the job is by acceptingwhat they feel they cannot change. They seek male approval and endure thedifficulties of the job without comment or overt protest. Most female correctionalofficers try to maintain harmonious relationships with their male peers and do notwant to draw attention to themselves, hoping to be left alone to do their jobs.The culture of the jail is such that women are forced to adapt and deal withproblems on their own. They do not have faith in channels for complaint. The cost1 13of complaining is high. Female correctional officers fear isolation and retaliation.The strongly individualistic character of many of the female guards reinforces thefeeling that they should be able to cope.One correctional officer noted that she knew sexism would exist in the jobbefore she accepted it, but the financial benefits outweighed the costs. Sheexplained:I knew it was going to be there, but for the moneydifference, I was willing to put up with it. There is a bigdifference between eight bucks an hour and thirteen.Again, sexual harassment and discrimination are normalized in the maleculture of a jail. Men greatly outnumber women, thus have more power to establishthe cultural norms of the workplace. Sexual harassment is taken for granted. Mendeny that it has any importance. In fact, it is accepted by men and many women,and assumed to be both an unavoidable and an unalterable part of workplaceculture. Because sexual harassment is seen as normal, complaining about it isviewed as making "a big deal out of nothing".Jail culture obfuscates harassment. For example, a prison environment ischaracterized by profanity and crude behaviour and the differences betweenboorishness and harassment are blurred. The language in a prison is rough andmany male officers point out that this existed before the introduction of women. Thelanguage is said to be better, improved, since women moved into the system. Roughlanguage is, therefore, not in itself intended to exclude women.114Discrimination and harassment may be somewhat easier to accept, in someironic way, in a work site in which it is open and blatant. Many male officers do nothide their feelings about women in general and women working in a prison inparticular. Women claim they get used to particularly blatant behaviour, especiallywhen they sense it is not motivated by hatred. Some harassment is so blatant as tobe ridiculous, trivial, even silly. A respondent described incidents of touching andsexual attention which she described as "not real" sexual harassment:I see very blatant stuff which I tend to think isn't realbecause if it was real, it would be much more slylydone. It's just a bull in a china shop routine. It's very,very blatant.Ironically, one of the reasons why it is easy to accept harassment and sexistattitudes is the sheer volume of it:Well I mean, man! If I complained every time someonemade a comment to me about whatever "Well you don'tknow any better. You're just a female", I mean, I'd bea basket case by now. (Correctional Officer)Women adopt and accept the male culture and are very tolerant of malebehaviour and culture. A correctional officer noted: "You get some hard-linefeminist, and she'd go right up the wall in the first night". Women fight back byignoring the comments or by verbal aggression, found to be sometimes, but notalways, an effective means of handling unwanted comments. Many womenmentioned ignoring or verbally rebuking negative or blatantly sexist comments. Acorrectional officer explained:115The women at the jail have probably all experienced itat some level. Comments or jokes or razing. When Ifirst started there I was absolutely horrified at some ofthe crap I was hearing from these guys and I just thought"Oh my God" and its well, don't be a prude. You haveto become one of the guys kind of thing. So you haveto kind of make a decision really early on, are you goingto say, "I'm not putting up with this crap" and then youget kind of ostracized and labelled "Oh well, she can'ttake jokes" or do you sort of go with the punches andlearn how to do rebuttals to shut them up?One extreme form of acceptance is to become like the men. Some womentake on an exaggerated "male" way of doing the job. They both accept and assumethe most extreme forms of jail culture. They try to outdo males at being male.Several women point to, and are extremely critical of, individual women who "dothe job like a man". Such women do a disservice to all women by breeding a greatdeal of resentment from both men and women. They attempt to "out-macho theboys" by choosing a "fictitious male role model" that as a respondent notes "even themen don't follow". A correctional officer explained:I see some of them, there's one or two that really wantto be like the guys, I mean the whole macho image, justa few. But most, I think, maintain their femininity. Weknow we're women and are quite proud of it.Some women feel pressure to conform by accepting and assuming thelanguage and culture of the jail:Well, when I went in there, I learnt from my family thatyou do not swear. I was never allowed to swear in myfamily. When I worked in the prison every second wordalmost (was swearing). They'd laugh at me if I didn't116swear. So after a while, I couldn't say anything and thesecond word was f this and f that. (Correctional officer)The risk associated with the job means that correctional officers must rely onthe strength of the group in times of danger. Guards identify with other guards.There is tremendous pressure for members to be loyal to their respective groups.Guards are a group opposed to another group, the inmates. In a crunch, thisovershadows all other considerations. Both inmates and guards protect themselvesby not alienating their group, by emphasizing similarities and by disregardingdissimilarities. A respondent explained:Because feminist or not, I'm also a pragmatic feminist.Basically it came down to, I didn't always like them; Icertainly didn't agree with a lot of their opinions, but thebottom line was I knew that if I was in danger, thoseguys would come rolling through the door. I knew theywould do it because that's their job. And I respectedthem for that. And so what I did was I found what Icould like in them, and let the rest go.Lastly, women deal with the environment through some form of withdrawal.This may mean taking stress leave. It may mean becoming apathetic or emotionallydetached. It may mean refraining from unnecessary social contact with colleagues.It may mean trying to work graveyard shifts when fewer guards and bosses arearound. It may mean quitting and thereby totally abandoning the stressfulcircumstances of the job.Prisons have a notoriously high absenteeism rate. Boredom, the potential forviolence, and conflicts with supervisors contribute to the stress. Several correctional1 1 7officers mentioned difficulties with stress and stress leave problems. There is afeeling among some women that management "hates stress leave and that's it.You're blackballed." Correctional officers do not feel that stress is seen bymanagement as a legitimate reason for absenteeism. The needs of the correctionalofficer conflict with the bureaucratic need to cover shifts. Stress leave is expensive.It also indicates a lack of stability. An admission of being "stressed" conflicts withthe macho image of being able to "handle" anything. Female correctional officersare perceived to be emotionally weak by male officers and if they are suffering fromstress it confirms that they "can't take" the stress of the job. Part of the "male"stereotype is that one does not express emotion, suppresses worry or insecurities.Men may be loathe to suggest they are having work related difficulties. However,if problems are not resolved through a leave, counselling, or some other means, thestress finds other outlets. A correctional officer explained her own story:Those are the ones that go out after work and get drunkand then go home and thump the hell out of their wives.That is how my relationship broke up, because that isexactly how my boyfriend (a guard in the jail) dealt withstress.A woman reported an incident that she described as having gender overtones:she was treated in a heavy handed manner in part because she was a woman. Sheultimately was so stressed by the situation that she took rather drastic measureswhich might be understood as an extreme form of withdrawal:I thought "Forget it, I'm just going to quit, I've hadenough of this bullshit." And I wasn't thinking clearly.118I was just stressed out. I was very naive in the politicsof the job. Aside from the original stress, there's thisadded stress and then my own personal self esteem andworrying "Oh, my God, they're not going to think I'm agood worker anymore." And those insecurities startedpopping up and everything blew out of proportion. Ibecame suicidal to the point where I attempted to takemy life three times. I went into the hospital and it justwent on and on and it was all because I was stressedout. (Correctional Officer)There is, additionally, another means of withdrawal. Guards are able towithdraw through apathy. The officer gradually loses interest and motivation andputs in minimal effort. Security becomes lax. The officer becomes more cynical andincreasingly tardy in handling the tasks of the job, just putting in time to collect apaycheck. Apathy adds to the already negative and de-moralized atmosphere of thejail. Absenteeism increases and if the job becomes too unbearable, the guard mayquit. Several of the correctional officers I interviewed described frequent thoughtsof leaving the job. Prisons have a high turnover rate.Lastly, fully a third of the women correctional officers I interviewed reportedthat they have little superfluous interaction with anyone, neither male or female, fromthe workplace. Some correctional officers even avoid the coffee room. Theybecome socially detached from the group. This self-isolation is often a consciousattempt to avoid harassment and other hostile social encounters:I don't get into a lot of chit chat with the staff.(Correctional officer)I don't really get involved. I don't really talk to verymany people. I don't get involved at all and sometimes119I don't even go downstairs anymore. I just don't bother,I don't need the hassle. (Correctional Officer)There are some that you don't sit in the office with atall. You stay on your unit with the inmates. It'sprobably safer there (with the inmates), too. I guesswhen I say I felt safer with the inmates than the guards,it's that you knew the hassles you'd get. With theguards you didn't know which way they were going tocome on. Like some of them would come on likethey're talking all this romantic stuff, I wouldn't call itromantic, but pretty gross things. They'd always comeout with their nice little comments about what theywould like to do with you if they ever got the chance.And you know, in two seconds they'll be bad mouthingyou. (Correctional officer)In this chapter I have discussed some of the ways in which women cope withthe contradictions of being a woman working as a guard in men's prisons. Womenestablish supportive relationships with at least some of their male peers. They acceptwhat seems inevitable and normal—sexual harassment, discrimination and"negativity". They accept the culture of the jail. Lastly, female guards withdraw insome form. They may take stress leave or refrain from social contact. They maybecome apathetic. They may quit.120CHAPTER 10: CONCLUSIONThe questions I attempted to answer in this thesis include: How and whyhave women come to work in such a highly male-dominated job? Did they considerthe male-dominated nature of the job before accepting it? Are female guardsdifferent in any identifiable way from other women who work in the jail, for instancedo they have differing life and work experiences? Do female guards encounterdifficulties that male guards do not? What are the sources of solidarity anddifferences women perceive between themselves and their male peers? Do femaleguards face the same problems as other women such as sexual harassment? Whatform does harassment take? If female guards are indeed harassed, do they complainabout it, and if not, why not? In what ways does the fact that the work place is a jailcomplicate problems like sexual harassment? How do women cope with a hostilemale environment?The introduction of women as guards in "men's" jails took place at a timewhen jails were under external pressure for reform. The time period coincided withpressure from the women's movement for equal opportunities for women in all fieldsof employment. This answers the broad question of how and why women becameguards in "men's" jails.In order to understand why and how individual women come to the job ofcorrectional officers, I compared female correctional officers to clerks, nurses, andlibrarians who work in the same jail. Women become correctional officers for thesame reasons that men do. They are attracted by wages, job security and benefits.121They did not actively seek the job but often discovered it by chance. This findingis opposite to the view of local managers in the jail, but consistent with otherresearch about male correctional officers (Jacobs, 1981; Webb and Morris, 1978;Ross, 1981; Crouch and Marquart, 1980; Jacobs and Retsky, 1980, Lombardo, 1981),female guards (Zimmer, 1986) and female police officers (Martin, 1980). This findingsuggests the differences between the perceptions of management and female guardsin the jail.I found female correctional officers to be younger and better educated thanclerks. Correctional officers were more likely than clerks, nurses and librarians tohave previous experience working in "men's" jobs. Zimmer's respondents tendedto have previous prison experience (1986:41). The guards I interviewed did not.Indeed, they were less likely to have even been inside a prison for any reason thannurses, clerks and librarians. The female guards I interviewed considered neither themale-dominated nature of the job nor popular images of jails in consideration of thejob.One striking difference between the female correctional officers and otherwomen working in the jail was that correctional officers tended to present themselvesas more introspective in interviews than clerks, nurses and librarians. They weremuch more likely to give unsolicited reports of past life experiences which wereunfavourable in some way. These backgrounds included child sexual abuse,alcoholic parents and various teenage rebellions. This finding supports Bass andDavis' (1988) suggestion that survivors of abuse and dysfunctional families are drawnto, and survive in, exceptionally crisis-prone jobs.122Women working as guards in men's prisons find themselves in a confusingposition. They are treated as both different and inferior, yet they are sympathetic totheir male peers. Female correctional officers have much in common with their malepeers. They accept the job for the same reasons as men. Like male guards, femaleguards experience an occupational culture characterized by conflict. They describean atmosphere characterized by boredom, a sense of isolation, a potential forviolence, and a huge impersonal bureaucracy. Management is distant, preoccupiedwith paper work and policy. These rather negative aspects of the work environmentincrease solidarity among guards.My study confirms the results of other studies (Jacobs and Retsky, 1980;Ekstedt and Griffiths, 1988; Crouch and Marquart, 1980; Lombardo, 1981; Webb andMorris, 1978; Ross, 1981) about guards: they are frustrated with management and the"politics" of the job. My study is different in that these other studies, with theexception of Jurik and Halemba (1984) and Zimmer (1986) which were primarilyabout male guards, while mine was about female guards.My study supports Kanter's view (1976:416) that women at the bottom oforganizational hierarchies share the frustrations of men in similar situations anddevelop sympathetic relationships with their peers.Despite the comradeship and common problems with co-workers, femaleguards face additional and complex difficulties not faced by male officers. Like otherwomen in male-dominated jobs, they experience paternalism, tokenism andharassment (Kanter, 1977; Zimmer, 1986; Jamieson, Beals, Lalonde and Associates,1990; Martin, 1980; Lunneborg, 1990; Williams, 1989). Personal and sexual123harassment are persistent and become normalized and accepted by both men andwomen. As in other studies (Peterson, 1982; Zimmer, 1986; Fry and Glaser, 1987;Jurik and Halemba, 1984), my respondents reported that inmates tend to be moresupportive of female guards than some male peers. From the onset, female guardsare assumed to be different than male guards. Colleagues doubt they can handle allaspects of the work. While the cost of being a guard are high, the costs of being afemale guard are higher.Some female guards adapt to their circumstances by gaining respect andacceptance. I found that many women experience supportive personal encounterswith male peers which establish their legitimacy and acceptance. Most women,however, also adapt to the job by simply accepting what might otherwise beunacceptable. They tolerate boorish language, harassment, and tokenism in partbecause they do not feel they have a choice. Sexual harassment happens so oftenand provokes so little response that it becomes normalized, a natural and inevitablecost of working in the jail.Lastly, some female guards cope with the job by withdrawing or disengagingin some way. This might be by avoiding co-workers, by becoming apathetic orultimately by quitting, and thereby reinforcing the notion that women cannot performthe job.Whatever the means of adapting to the job, it is clear that the onus is onwomen to adapt. Female guards pay a high price for working in a jail. They mustadapt to the environment without complaint, or leave, tolerating inequality andopposition.124The primary aim of this research has been to advance our understanding ofwhy women choose to become correctional officers and the consequences of thatchoice. The following recommendations emerge from that understanding:1) There is a need for training in the jail system. Managers and guards need tobe sensitized to the problems of women working as guards. Those inpositions of power, usually men, do not share the experiences andperspectives of women. They are, perhaps, not even aware of the burdens onwomen working in the jail. If they can come to understand the reasons whywomen do not complain about their circumstances this could be an importantfirst step in taking the burdens off of individual women.2) The jail should be diligent in screening for, and eliminating, job candidateswho are unable or unwilling to develop relationships built upon mutualrespect with female colleagues.3) Policy should prohibit both personal and sexual harassment. Thisrecommendation is in line with recent policy changes at other majorinstitutions (Douglas College, University of Victoria) and more accuratelyreflects the reality of workers in the jail.4) Mechanisms for complaint about personal and sexual harassment should existoutside the paramilitary chain of command. There is an over-all lack of trustin the established management.5)^Victims of harassment should be given confidential, empathetic, and practicalsupport.1256) A harasser should face real, significant consequences, up to and including,dismissal.7) Managers should develop mechanisms for listening to, and responding to,workers concerns. The frustrations and anger expressed by my respondentssuggest a high degree of dissatisfaction with the job. The jail might beadvised to adopt a more participatory form of management with increasedworker input and decision making power.8)^Managers should seek ways of recognizing individual contributions ofemployees. Many of the women I interviewed expressed concerns about notreceiving recognition for their contribution to the jail.If these recommendations were acted upon, female correctional officers wouldencounter a more positive and less stressful work environment. Trends in women'semployment suggest that women will continue to work as prison guards. 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