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Little is generally known about the factors affecting the managerial advancement of women in police forces internationally. There is a dearth of research on women and policing in the Garda Síochána. Women are 50 years in policing in Ireland and would appear to have been totally restricted in their progression up until the last decade.
The principle aim of this study is concerned with exploring the research question ‘Does Gender Impact on Career Progression in the Garda Síochána?’ It concentrates solely on policewomen. A comprehensive analysis of national and international literature is summarised in a literature review. An extensive examination of 50 years of archived material in the Garda Museum relating to females in the Garda Síochána is carried out. The primary research method utilised to appraise the research question is a comprehensive survey of 173 senior policewomen in the Garda Síochána in which gender issues are addressed. The study concentrates on the population of all female sergeants, inspectors and superintendents (n297).
The thesis reports on the patterns of female representation in the Garda Síochána, the deployment and specialisation of policewomen, the perceived attitudes of policemen towards policewomen, discrimination against policewomen and external factors inhibiting policewomen’s advancement. These issues are examined from a historical perspective and a contemporary perspective.
The under-representation of policewomen in senior ranks was explored and charted to show they are wholly under-represented both laterally and horizontally throughout the organisation. The study has demonstrated that women have only made limited headway into strategic positions of power in the Garda Síochána, both in terms of gaining experience in specialist units and in terms of progression through the ranks. There is evidence to show that deployment patterns differ for men and women in ways that may disadvantage some women. Tentative evidence was proffered that the amount of sexual harassment and discrimination experienced by policewomen in the Garda Síochána is diminishing to some extent compared to that reported in international research. However, there are still a number of discriminatory factors which negatively affect the quality of some policewomen’s work environment and career prospects. Further, gender-related career barriers, such as work-life balance, pose specific difficulties for some senior policewomen, particularly those with children.
In summary, the data gathered during this study combine to affirm the research question that gender impacts on career progression in the Garda Síochána for some policewomen, but not all policewomen. This suggests that policewomen are experiencing greater gender equality in certain spheres of policing, and certain obstacles to their progression are being dismantled.
Sheridan, Goretti: Does Gender Impact on Career Progression in the Garda Síochána?:Masters Dissertation. Dublin, DIT, September 2009