Negotiating identity: who does she think she is?

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The occupation of policing has long been associated with masculinity. Resistance

to the integration of women into the law enforcement profession stemmed from widely

held beliefs that women were incapable of performing

The occupation of policing has long been associated with masculinity. Resistance

to the integration of women into the law enforcement profession stemmed from widely

held beliefs that women were incapable of performing the police function. Although

much has changed in policing, female officers are bombarded with masculine symbols

depicting mostly the agentic characteristics associated with the law enforcement

profession. Or, they are offered socially and culturally constructed definitions of who

they are supposed to be as women as well as what is lacking in them as officers. This

study explores the disparity between how female police officers are viewed, what they

experience, and how they are represented. The perspective of the female officer was

captured, and presented through visual images obtained by participants. Descriptive

coding and thematic analysis converted photographs and written narratives into

participant generated themes and stories. Female officers in this study resisted stereotypic

portraits of women in policing and sought expanded boundaries of inclusion within their

profession. Participants produced some understanding of how women construct their

personal and professional identities relative to gender, as well as the larger roles of

women in society.