MA Research Paper


Master of Arts




Dr. Tracey L. Adams


There are varied opinions as to whether the subculture of policing continues to reproduce traditional gender roles and stereotypes in order to maintain male dominance, leaving policewomen at a distinct disadvantage. In an effort to understand this phenomenon from policewomen’s own experiences, this study utilized qualitative in-depth interviews with 15 policewomen from varied police forces in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. The role of police culture and hegemonic masculinity is explored in relation to the identity formation of policewomen both on and off-duty. Drawing on the work of Dorothy Smith (1987), the findings reveal that policewomen have a bifurcated consciousness, dividing the world as they actually experience it from the hegemonic masculine view they adopt as officers. Since the latter viewpoint strongly devalues the former, women are frequently conflicted, and at times at war with themselves and each other. The results confirm that the hegemonic masculine values perpetuated by the institution of policing influences the way policewomen see themselves, the world, and each other.

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