UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gender issues in policing : women's experiences in Canadian law enforcement Reil, Lynda Leigh


Canadian police departments have recently faced court challenges related to gender differences in the workplace (Merlo, 2013, Drews, 2013, CBC, 2014). The most notable case to date is the gender-based harassment and discrimination class action involving nearly 400 female RCMP officers in British Columbia that alleges women have experienced physical assault, unwanted sexual touching, rape, sexist comments, threats, harassment, bullying and gender discrimination. Gender equity research specific to policing conducted in the United States points to women police having “less power and lower status” than men (Gerber, 2001). The most recent research (Garcia, 2003, Gerber, 2001, Morash, 2012, Woodfield, 2007, Silvestri, 2003, Walsh, 1997) looks at other non-traditional occupations for women and at police forces in the U.S. and England, but research on the Canadian context is lacking and only examines the number of women in Canadian policing (Hutchins, 2014, Prenzler, 2013). To determine how women police officers are experiencing working in Canadian police departments semi-structured qualitative interviews and demographic surveys were conducted with ten currently serving women police officers in British Columbia and Alberta and Ontario. The most current data (Statistics Canada 2016) relating to numbers of women in Canadian police forces was examined to determine any recent changes that have occurred in relation to numbers of women employed in various ranks in Canadian police departments.This study concludes that the culture as well as the policies and procedures of police departments continue to marginalize women police officers, thereby preventing the achievement of gender equity. Much more can be done to improve policies to support the employment of women in policing.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International