Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Police organizations have a problem retaining female police officers, especially those who are mothers. Women leave the policing profession at higher rates during childbearing and child-rearing years than during any other time in their career. Using feminist theory as a foundation, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to gain a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of policewomen who are mothers and identify factors that contribute to poor retention rates during childbearing and child-rearing years. Data were collected through 11 interviews with policewomen, who were also mothers, in Ohio. These data were analyzed using Saldana's 2-cycle coding procedure followed by thematic analysis. The findings included a set of patterns that provided insight into the reasons why female police officers are more difficult to retain. These patterns included: (a) challenges related to a double standard associated with women being primary caregivers, (b) psycho-social changes after children including hypervigilance on the job, (c) fear of reassignment or termination, and (d) the perception that departmental policy fails to address the unique needs of female officers. Together, the findings suggest that police departments today have yet to fully understand the challenges that policewomen who are mothers face on a daily basis. The implications for social change include reformed policies and practices that could contribute to the advancement and professionalization of the policing profession as a whole by changing the traditionally masculine organizational culture and promoting a more gender-neutral environment, thus allowing communities to benefit from having a more diverse police force.