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Research Summit on Women in Policing

NIJ-hosted Research Summit on Women in Policing

Good morning and welcome to the National Institute of Justice and Washington, DC.

In particular, I would like to welcome all the sworn law enforcement in the room, including officers from four countries and more than 25 departments. Thank you for your service and the work you do to advance policing, in America and across the world.

Most of the people in this room know the importance of why we are gathered today firsthand. For decades, women have been underrepresented in American law enforcement, comprising less than thirteen percent of law enforcement officers and a much smaller share of leadership positions.

Despite efforts to increase participation, the percentage of women in law enforcement has remained relatively stagnant for the past twenty years. There is limited empirical research, and especially rigorous research, on how to increase the employment of women in policing. There is also insufficient research to understand the unique challenges women officers face, and to address ways to improve the recruitment, retention, and promotion of exceptional women police.

The challenges facing the criminal and juvenile justice systems are big ones, so attracting top talent to this noble profession is as vital as ever. I am sure that there are many women who would have become excellent police officers, but, for various reasons, decided to pursue other careers.  

When we talk about the statistics of women in policing, it can feel pretty bleak. But this is where the good news come in — we have you here. As we look to create a research agenda on this issue moving forward, we have assembled this Summit to draw input from the experts. Thank you for making the time to be with us and contribute your expertise.

This convening is the brainchild and labor of love of NIJ’s Maureen McGough and Rianna Starheim. Maureen and Rianna have put in a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes, and this Summit couldn’t have happened without them. Can we please have a round of applause for them? I am very grateful for their contributions to NIJ.

I’d also like to thank Chief Research Advisor Gary Cordner and NIJ’s Research Assistant Kristin Silver for all of their work to support this convening.

As the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, NIJ is committed to using research to understand and advance criminal and juvenile justice issues.

We also are committed to listening to and addressing the problems of those on the front lines. We don’t do research in an ivory tower and then make proclamations. We know working with the likes of those in the room is the only way to effectively push the needle on criminal and juvenile justice issues.

This marks the first time that NIJ has convened a group to discuss this issue. I’m honored to have the opportunity to welcome you to the Department of Justice, and want to thank you for being here.

This week’s Summit is just a starting point. Our goal is to use the conversations over the next several days to generate a research agenda for women in policing moving forward. This agenda will identify the pressing areas for research.

This Summit is all about listening to you, so I’d like to turn things over to you.

Best wishes for a productive Summit, and thank you.