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Why Women Should Consider Careers in Criminal Justice

Sat, 09/22/2012 - 11:21am | by Marie Owens

Where a criminal justice degree was once off limits to women, members of this formerly exclusive brotherhood are feeling the nudge of determined elbows as more women insist their way through doors that formerly read, “men only.” At New York’s University at Albany School for Criminal Justice, women now outnumber men in the doctorate program and, according to the Minority Corporate Counsel Association the number of female lawyers at Fortune 500 companies is on the rise. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau reported that law is currently an excellent career opportunity for women.

In the past, female police officers were known as "meter-maids." Today she might be a patrol officer or even department chief. One significant advantage of female officers is that they have an extremely low ratio of police brutality cases. Where male officers depend more on force, women rely on communication to diffuse tense situations. This lower ratio of lawsuits being filed against actions of female officers reduces expensive payouts from tight city budgets.

Women also make natural detectives. In a study by Luis Pacheco-Cobos, women proved more efficient in the development and performance of search strategies than men. Research by Professor Keith Laws of Hertfordshire’s School of Psychology also revealed female test subjects scored higher than men in formulating strategy. According to Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at Kent University, “women's intuition enables them to make better judgment calls.”

Women are also challenging men in the fields of criminal profiling, crime scene investigation and forensic psychology. Wright State University's Dr. Douglas. A. Gordon suggests women are natural lie detectors, having a greater capacity to identify, process and to interpret nonverbal communication. Other studies prove women superior at uncovering hidden motives or intentions, a skill David C. Geary, (psychologist at the University of Missouri–Columbia) said, “seems to elude many men." 

The number of female judges presiding over the parry and riposte of court proceedings is also surging. In fact, it seems that women are taking control of the workforce in general. According to the U.S. Labor Department and Statistics Canada, female employees now outnumber men for the first time in the history of both countries. No longer satisfied with second place, women are displaying impressive skills in winning the proverbial rat race.

So, why should more women consider careers in criminal justice? Primarily because the skills required in this field come naturally for them. Women are nurturers, caretakers, capable of balancing a baby on one hip and a gun on the other. In ancient Egypt, it was the goddess Ma’at who embodied the principles of law and order and it was by her feather of truth the hearts of mortals were weighed in judgment. Today, women are "coming out of the kitchen" and reclaiming their power. Fading are the days when gender determined the upper hand. Like Annie Lennox said, "Take a look around. There's a woman right next to you."

Marie Owens works in security logistics. In her spare time she teaches a female self-defense course and studies law in Washington state.

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