Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Mary Cay Sengstock


This exploratory study examines the policing experiences of fourteen African American and White female police officers using interviews and observations. There is ample research that addresses the ability of women to perform policing duties, but most of the literature presumes that White and African American policewomen are a single aggregate. These ignored societal differences and social realities of black and white policewomen, based on distinctive assigned social positions, histories, images and location, possibly contribute to different perspectives and experiences in law enforcement. These same social realities shape occupational positions, perspectives, perceptions, and treatment within law enforcement organizations. There are broad historical context and discourse in law enforcement and society, along with contemporary frameworks, in which we understand and interpret African American and White female subjectivity in our culture, which contribute to their status within law enforcement. These historical/contemporary contexts include sexuality, invisibility, stereotypes, bias, discrimination, welfare, family status, and affirmative action.