Women in Blue


Kendall Trepanier, Journalist

The responsibilities of law enforcement officers are mainly focused on protecting people and property. They work to ensure safety and enforce law and order. When an individual makes a call for help, they often expect a male officer to come to their need. However, in the U.S. today females make up 12.7% of the law enforcement population. Despite this, in many police stations, it would still be surprising to see a female cop as they are often rare to come by.  As a female who hopes to one day follow in my father’s footsteps and wear a blue uniform, I often wonder why there is still a gender discrepancy in law enforcement.

In order to become a cop you must first have a degree and then get a police station to sponsor you into joining a police academy. After speaking to a local Ipswich police officer about his experience with the females in the police academy Officer Brian Murphy says that, “They were very competent and smart. They all worked as hard as the men did and proved to be great officers.” There are many physical tests that must be passed in order to graduate from the police academy such as push ups, long distance running, and weightlifting. As a person who can do a maximum of three push ups before I fall to the ground gasping for air, I was curious if the requirements were the same for the women. Officer Murphy recalled that the female recruits, “did all the same physical activities as the guys did minus the physical aptitude test. Their standards were less than the men in that while the men had to do 36 push ups, they only had to do 18.” Being in a male dominated field, surrounded by men, women may feel excluded or out of place, but “They fit in perfectly, and everyone got along really well,” said Officer Murphy. Officer Brian Murphy stated that “In policing, we work with are our brothers and sisters in blue.”

Being a law enforcement officer may be different in the eyes of women than in the eyes of men. Officer Laura Fardy, a female cop from Stoneham gave some insight on what it’s like surrounded by male cops all day. She said, “Working in this field you have to have a tough skin. It is not the kind of job that you can take lightly if you think because you are a girl you will get special privileges. Even though you usually do have the backup of the other guys you still need to know how to talk to people . Being only 5’3 I think that knowing how to talk to people and deal with crazy situations is the most important skill.” This is proves that you don’t have to be macho enough to take someone down if you excel in other skills such as communication. I was curious if she receives the same level of respect in her department and if her male coworkers treated her fairly, to which she told me that, “The guys sometimes treat me like a little sister and equal at the same time, but they all know when it’s game on and the call goes south I have no problems handling myself”. This compares to what was previously stated by Officer Brian Murphy that they are brothers and sisters in the workforce and have each other’s backs.

Female cops can face different challenges than male cops. In the case of Officer Fardy she said, “I think my biggest challenge is trying to juggle being a mom and then turning that off and being a cop. I have to be a little soft and cuddly when I am at home and then I can be as nice at work, but I have to put on my tough girl pants”. Another issue that may be faced is the fact that female cops are taken less seriously than male cops by society. Senior Molly Barry, who is also planning on pursuing a career in law enforcement in the future, told the Tiger Transcript about her goals. “I believe that as a women I could be just as good as a male officer. I believe that there needs to be more women officers though”.

When it comes down to feeling protected and being confident that your safety is ensured by the police, the gender of the officer willing to do that shouldn’t matter.