Women in Law Enforcement

Ashley Giron, Student, Fitchburg State University

One of the first women who first joined the police force was Margaret Foley, the first female police officer in Boston. Just like most women in the law enforcement community she had many struggles while in the process of becoming an officer. Becoming a police officer at the time was very difficult, the number of female officers increased but very much continued to be rare to see a female officer in a male-dominated job. These women took the phrase “to protect and serve” and did what they could with the resources they had, which was few. To protect themselves It came down to their own bodies because they were not allowed to carry a gun or wear uniform. According to Maria Cramer, during the time of 1972, “They had nothing. They would arrest and get into fistfights and win...The women only had their wit and intellect to get them through their tour of duty." The Boston police department gave these women small chance to prove themselves, the community and others doubted that they were capable of doing the same work as men. They were put at many disadvantages with the cases they received, not getting the same uniforms and ultimately not receiving the same pay as all the men in the department.

Nora Batson is redefining what it means to be a police officer in Boston. Not only is she one of the few officers at the Boston police department that identifies as a female officer, but she also works with the youth in Boston. She reaches out to the boys and girls of Boston, but specifically to the young girls because she feels as if she never had a role model or someone to guide her. Batson acknowledges that her experience wasn’t easy; she shares, “Being a female, never mind a black female, in a predominately male job and its culture, they’re not used to women in positions of power, It was a real struggle. It was hard. But once again I have so many friends on the job that I would call for advice” (Edwards). Many years ago it was very unheard of for women getting promoted, and if they did get the recognition it did not come with higher pay. Today women like Batson are getting both the recognition and promotion that is deserved. This doesn’t mean that the injustices are gone; it means that we are moving towards change.

Tiffany Bratton is now the newly-promoted Lieutenant of South Boston; with her background in law enforcement she is nothing but qualified for this position. Bratton was first in the patrol unit then moved up to corporal, then continued to move up and became a patrol sergeant. Later she became an investigator and the new Lieutenant of Boston. Because of her continuous hard work that she has put in the department she has been able to reach that position in the chain of command. Many women who do go into law enforcement struggle from many different obstacles that get in the way; this can be the work environment, the gender roles that some chose to follow, and the discrimination they face.

The women in the department could feel more comfortable to reach out to Bratton about the discrimination or mistreatment they are experiencing instead of reaching out to a higher authority that they might not feel is looking out for them. This also could be the role models that many young girls in Boston look at especially in a city that struggles with violence; it’s not always easy for young girls to make it out of the city and get into a career, but with women in law enforcement showing these young girls that it is possible it can definitely make a difference. This is not to say that the women that are in these high ranked positions aren’t facing any sort of discrimination, but when you reach some sort of power it gives you the chance to voice your opinion and be likely to be heard compared to someone who is in the bottom of the chain of command with no platform. Policing in America should not be based off the gender, sex, or race of a person. Policing should be based on skills, education, and the characteristics of a person.

Baines, Miranda. “In a Milestone Moment, Tiffany Bratton Becomes First Female Lieutenant in South Boston Police Department.” YourGV.com, 29 Apr. 2021, www.yourgv.com/in-a-milestone-moment-tiffaney-bratton-becomes-first-female-lieutenant-in-south-boston-police-department/article_a121e496-a921-11eb-ac04-ef5b6a6a21c2.html.

Cramer, Maria. “90 Years Later, Boston’s First Policewomen Get Fresh Recognition.” The Boston Globe, 21 Apr. 2011, archive.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/04/21/90_years_later_boston s_first_policewomen_get_fresh_recognition/?page=1.

Edwards, Latoyia. “'She Thrives': Boston Police Superintendent Nora Baston.” NBC10 Boston, 20 Feb. 2019, www.nbcboston.com/news/local/black-history-month-she-thrives-nora-baston-boston-police-superintendent/3575/.

Irons, Meghan E. “Women Allege Discrimination, Retaliation on Male-Dominated Boston Police Force.” The Boston Globe, 5 May 2019, www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/05/05/lawsuits-women-allege-discrimination-retaliation-male-dominated-boston-policeforce/65vGv4MCUG7Qyqc4ocenVM/story.html. 

Sha, Rebecca. “The Persisting Gender Pay Gap: Recent Developments in the Law That Address Gender Pay Disparities.” American Bar Association, www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/diversity-inclusion/articles/2019/spring2019-gender-pay-gap-recent-developments/.