Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Maria (Maki) Haberfeld

Committee Members

Peter Mameli

Hung-En Sung

Michael Walker

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


women police officers, feminist theory, women representation, women attrition rates, police academy, police academy training


Police agencies throughout the country still have an underrepresentation of women police officers. Research has shown that the benefits of hiring women police officers are many, as they have proven to be as competent as their male counterparts, less likely to use excessive force, can implement community-oriented policing, respond to calls for domestic violence effectively, bring about beneficial changes in policy for all agencies, and reduce the problems of sexual discrimination and harassment within an agency. Yet, the obstacles encountered for women are significantly different from their male counterparts. As such, this research uses secondary, non-identifiable data obtained from police academies in California, Texas, Wisconsin, Arizona, and New Jersey to examine whether (1) women are being adequately represented within these police academies, and (2) if women are failing the police academy at greater rates than their male counterparts.

Since research neglects to assess the extent to which personal and contextual factors play a role in police academy training, this study addresses two main questions:

(1) Is gender a determining factor in successfully graduating the police academy?

(2) Is gender and being a minority a determining factor in successfully graduating the police academy?

Assessing the ways both personal (i.e. age, race, gender) and contextual characteristics (i.e. academic, physical fitness, firearm qualification, disciplinary, personal) is important to understanding the significant these factors play for women to successfully pass the police academy. To address the research questions, these factors were developed by examining the characteristics using a Chi-square test to determine if there is a relationship to passing the police academy. Additionally, a binary logistic regression analysis to determine if individual and contextual factors serve as predictors of passing police academy training. Results from this study suggest that there are relationships between these factors and whether a female recruit passes police academy training. However, the data supplied by many of the states varied and were inconsistent, thereby not allowing for an in-depth analysis as previously hoped. Despite efforts to attain more robust data from these agencies, the revelation that women are grossly underrepresented and failing at greater rates than males remained a constant theme throughout this research.