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Fedster

Met Commissioner: Why 'myths and stereotypes' are holding back a 50-50 gender split

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Cressida Dick believes the public is '20 years behind' on women in policing.

Opening up: Cressida Dick at the Met's Heritage Centre in West Brompton today

Opening up: Cressida Dick at the Met's Heritage Centre in West Brompton today

Date - 18th February 2019
By - Hermione Wright
1 Comment1 Comment}

 

Society is still 20 years behind in a “laughable” scenario that expects to see men in charge, the woman at the head of UK policing claimed today.  

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick claims “myths and stereotypes” are responsible for the service's inability to reach a 50-50 gender split. 

Britain's highest-ranking officer said that even she has encountered sexism in the “not too distant past” when it comes to the public expecting to see male rather than female officers.

Making the comments during a campaign to raise awareness of 100 years of women in policing, she said: “You’re walking along and somebody will think the person in charge is a man which is laughable for us because we haven’t been like that for 20 years but it does happen absolutely, even in London – probably the most modern and diverse city on the planet."

However, she admits the problem is not confined to policing and that there are "challenges internally in all workplaces".

Despite Commissioner Dick being the first woman to hold Britain's top policing job, female officers are still vastly outnumbered by men – with only 27 per cent making up the service complement.

And although she has the long-term ambition of ensuring officers comprise 50 per cent women, she admits that it will not be possible during her time as the commissioner.

She was unable to pinpoint when this figure will be achieved, admitting “it is going to take a while”. The fact that many officers tend to stay in policing for decades is partly responsible for these numbers being slow to change, she insists. 

Britain's top cop told Police Oracle: “Because in society more women tend to have caring responsibilities, it can be harder for people to evidence their achievements, or to do roles which are highly prized because they require being operational 24/7.

“We’re looking really hard at that – how can we become a more flexible workplace and one which actually does promote people on their capabilities and their future ability, not just on how many hours they’ve put in?”

Despite the uneven split, the commissioner said she is still “really pleased” with how far women have progressed in policing over the past century – and how thanks to the first pioneers, “women at every rank” and “every type of role you can imagine” are “enjoying themselves and thriving”.  

Her own personal success is also a sign of how much the force has changed, she says. “I have a great job – I’m very happy. I spring out of bed every morning, it’s lovely. I’m very lucky and I think when you look around the world, it says something about British policing.

“When I was the commissioner to counter terrorism my two deputies were women, that wouldn’t happen anywhere else in the world. We’ve got further to go – I’m very ambitious about that but I think we can be quite proud of how far we’ve come.”

Her comments came as she opened a women in policing exhibition at the Met’s Heritage Centre in London's West Brompton. Mini truncheons and a suffragette sash are some of the objects on show to the public for the first time. 

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obsidian_eclipse

It's important however to ask questions (and seek answers to them), such as what proportion of women want to be police officers compared to that of men? If for instance few women want to be police officers then it is not representative to aim for a split figure as this becomes arbitrary.

We also need to address other arguments outlined under the heading of myths and stereotypes. Particularly as she has brought up women conventionally had caring or nurturing roles within the home and therefore they don't have evidence of their skills in the workplace. This is true, but only of the women who held caring and nurturing roles within the home, not of the women who do work. The fact that some of them do doesn't mean that this is a barrier to all of them. The problem here is she is applying a blanket to cover all, which simply isn't the case. The same could be argued for the men who stay at home, although a small figure they are relevant. The best way to deal with unjust stereotypes in this instance would be run a program which encourages 'people' who have stayed at home to look after the family to join - otherwise she is merely perpetuating a myth. After all, if you want officers from all aspects of life then you should aim to include them regardless of gender.

If we focus on gender roles from decades ago we aren't going to be fit for the future.

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Radman
25 minutes ago, obsidian_eclipse said:

It's important however to ask questions (and seek answers to them), such as what proportion of women want to be police officers compared to that of men? If for instance few women want to be police officers then it is not representative to aim for a split figure as this becomes arbitrary.

We also need to address other arguments outlined under the heading of myths and stereotypes. Particularly as she has brought up women conventionally had caring or nurturing roles within the home and therefore they don't have evidence of their skills in the workplace. This is true, but only of the women who held caring and nurturing roles within the home, not of the women who do work. The fact that some of them do doesn't mean that this is a barrier to all of them. The problem here is she is applying a blanket to cover all, which simply isn't the case. The same could be argued for the men who stay at home, although a small figure they are relevant. The best way to deal with unjust stereotypes in this instance would be run a program which encourages 'people' who have stayed at home to look after the family to join - otherwise she is merely perpetuating a myth. After all, if you want officers from all aspects of life then you should aim to include them regardless of gender.

If we focus on gender roles from decades ago we aren't going to be fit for the future.

From what I can gather evidentially even in more progressive societies such as Scandinavian nations this wide gap still remains between the sexes within various professions. 

I personally believe men and women are different in the vast majority of cases, each being naturally attracted to different roles for various reasons, not particularly reasons that society solely impacts or influences either. 

We seem to be down playing this evidence in favour of an idea that people are all the same and it is society that influences their decisions in adult life, I personally do not believe this to be the case and that there is atleast something hard wired in us to prefer one profession over another. 

Edited by Radman
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Cathedral Bobby
27 minutes ago, Radman said:

We seem to be down playing this evidence in favour of an idea that people are all the same and it is society that influences their decisions in adult life, I personally do not believe this to be the case and that there is atleast something hard wired in us to prefer one profession over another. 

We have had for most of our history a view that men are from Mars and women from Venus, some of which is of course stereotypical. However, until recently when joining the police (not including specials) only full time posts were available when joining. Women have predominantly taken on the principal parenting/caring role and time is taken away from employment roles, no matter the job, to perform this. Ad you say Radman, there are roles which are also dominated still by women, including nursing, social work and primary years teaching. I suspect there is something within the genes which predisposes women towards caring roles. Many of the prejudices of the past relating to gender specific or dominated roles have rightly bitten the dust and now the numbers of men involved in nursing, nursery teaching and care work is increasing. But in many areas this will take many years and perhaps given gender differences, which may have to do with genes as opposed to equality, may mean that a 50/50 gender split in a number of roles will never be realised. It does not mean that anyone gender is better at performing a particular role, just more disposed to it.

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Zulu 22

I agree with both of you. Dick seems to ignore reality in the fact that much of Policing is physical which many women do nnot possess and, yes I know there are some males who could not knock the skin off a rice pudding. She seems to denigrate women who opt to remain at home, being mothers,and raising a stable family.
,

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Cathedral Bobby

I think sometimes things are over complicated and people look for reasons that just are not there. In the past you couldn't be part time in the police and for many women who wanted family I am sure this was a put off. But that is no longer the case. Policing I suspect is not as an attractive occupation for women as men. Why, well who truly knows? The fact that all necessary measures are in place to ensure women have equal opportunity to join the service would suggest this. I see no difference in the abilities of male and female constables. Each gender brings strengths and weaknesses to the service as does each individual. Within the priesthood of the CofE we now have more women being ordained than men. Remember until 30 years ago this was 100% male dominated position. So since being allowed to enter the priesthood, women have found this vocation particularly attractive. But it still isn't the case for the police service, front line military, fire service, major engineering etc. 

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SD

1st problem is the beep test, more women than fail it. 2nd is PST training, more women than men fail it. 3rd is women don’t like fighting.

Which is probably why they’re looking for DE detectives.

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Funkywingnut
24 minutes ago, SD said:

1st problem is the beep test, more women than fail it. 2nd is PST training, more women than men fail it. 3rd is women don’t like fighting.

Which is probably why they’re looking for DE detectives.

The fitness test isn’t an issue, Recruitment is, 5.4 on the bleep test is not difficult. If you are employing people who can’t do that on entry, then they simply shouldn’t get the job. 

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SD
18 minutes ago, Funkywingnut said:

The fitness test isn’t an issue, Recruitment is, 5.4 on the bleep test is not difficult. If you are employing people who can’t do that on entry, then they simply shouldn’t get the job. 

Is for many of the females joining GMP at the moment. Get 2-3 every intake (100 every 10 weeks) failing the beep test within the first 10 weeks of starting. They pass to get in then do nothing to keep their fitness up. Also had some take 12 months to pass their PST due to fear of conflict and poor fitness. Many want to get off shift ASAP and a couple became pregnant within a few months of joint and have been sat at a desk ever since.

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Funkywingnut
Just now, SD said:

Is for many of the females joining GMP at the moment. Get 2-3 every intake (100 every 10 weeks) failing the beep test within the first 10 weeks of starting. They pass to get in then do nothing to keep their fitness up. Also had some take 12 months to pass their PST due to fear of conflict and poor fitness. Many want to get off shift ASAP and a couple became pregnant within a few months of joint and have been sat at a desk ever since.

Get rid of them then, make it a compulsory pass or face the sack. It’s hardly a difficult standard of fitness to maintain, it’s not even running for the first 3 levels then the last 2 are a jog at best. 

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SD
25 minutes ago, Funkywingnut said:

Get rid of them then, make it a compulsory pass or face the sack. It’s hardly a difficult standard of fitness to maintain, it’s not even running for the first 3 levels then the last 2 are a jog at best. 

Whilst I agree with you you’ve missed the point. A larger portion of females than males can’t do it therefore the pot to pick from is reduced. There not a 50/50 split of Male/female population who can pass never mind applying for jobs. 

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Radman
28 minutes ago, SD said:

Whilst I agree with you you’ve missed the point. A larger portion of females than males can’t do it therefore the pot to pick from is reduced. There not a 50/50 split of Male/female population who can pass never mind applying for jobs. 

You'll never get anywhere being honest you know SD... 😅

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SD
1 hour ago, Radman said:

You'll never get anywhere being honest you know SD... 😅

You sound like my inner voice!😂

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SimonT

As ever, there are vast cultural and societal gulfs which need to be crossed to address this issue, along with many others. Its rediculous to expect the police to be able to address it effectively. 

The number of women I know who have a serious psychological block against fitness is high. For men it's zero. Whilst that must be partly police it has to be partly society.. 

And setting things up so that you can go direct entry to detective is a good idea as long as it doesn't end up with females as the detectives and males as the knuckle dragging grunts. 

I have to say the gender gap for refuse collection and highways staff seems vast, yet rarely mentioned 

 

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Reasonable Man

Physical fitness is no barrier for women in policing.
I did a large study on it and proved to the Chief Officers that there was no need to lower the fitness tests for women wanting specialist roles.
I analysed the fitness test scores for recruits taken in over a two year period and they showed that almost without exception women got fitter over their probationary period, while a significant minority of men posted worse scores towards the end of their two years.
I also analysed the fitness test scores of officers applying for specialist roles and promotion. No women failed a fitness test for a specialist role, one did once for promotion. Several men failed those fitness tests.
What my study showed was that women wanting the traditionally male roles were more motivated than their male counterparts to train and maintain their physical fitness. A lot of men thought they were fit enough and would pass without training for it.
The reasons women were under represented were based on other stereotypical reasons - mainly taking on more of the child care responsibilities in the family so being less flexible in working hours, and reluctance to be in the macho culture of the PSU van, firearms team etc.

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