Women: a force to be reckoned with

Last Sunday Western Australia welcomed 91 graduate police officers from the Joondalup Police Academy.

Of the graduate officers, 33 were women and 58 men, highlighting the continuing disparity in the number of male and female officers in the state’s police force.

There are 1562 women in the Western Australian Police force and 5075 men.

However, the number of female officers joining the force is on the rise every year, with 159 female officers joining the force since 2016.

Former police officer and associate professor at Central Queensland University Celeste Lawson says there are various reasons for the gender disparity, mainly the nature of the work.

“The role of police in society has a distinct purpose, and it’s a career path that is quite often physical, which may deter some women,” she says.

“I don’t think it’s as neat as that. There are a lot of things that women can do in the police force and can often do better than men, such as negotiation skills and remaining calm under pressure.”

Constable Jaimie Stevens graduated from the Western Australian Police Academy in 2018, and has worked in the police force ever since.

Ms Stevens cites the appeal of doing something different every day and the opportunity to respond to emergencies as the main reasons she wanted to become a police officer.

Constable Jaimie Stevens has worked in metropolitan Perth and regional WA since graduating. Photo: Supplied.

“Being a female, it did cross my mind whether or not I’d be able to keep up with the guys and hold my own, but it wasn’t enough to put me off applying. I just knew I’d have to work hard,” she says.

After three years in the police force Ms Stevens says she has never had any issue because of her gender, and says she has seen a noticeable increase in the number of women in the force.

“Where I’m stationed at the moment a third of the officers at our station are female, which is great to see,” she says.

“I’ve had some really good opportunities since I’ve been in the police. Being a female has never stopped me from doing anything in the job. As long as you’re willing to work hard and get the job done you’ll thrive.”

WA Police Union acting president Mick Kelly says both the WA Police Force and the WA Police Union have undertaken a lot of work to increase the representation of women in policing.

“We are seeing more women graduate as part of each and every squad which is extremely pleasing,” he says.