College Students' Perceptions of Female Police Officers: An Attitudinal Assessment

Christine Y. Olsen

Through previous research conducted with male police officers, citizens, and college students, it has been discovered that the level of education an individual has attained directly affects their perceptions of female police officers. When studying college students, other variables, such as gender and having a family member in law enforcenent, were also found to have an effect on students' perceptions.

This research assessed the attitudes of 218 undergraduate students attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania toward women in the policing field. Students were given a self-administered survey which contained twenty questions for attitudinal assessment along with thirteen demographic questions. In selecting the sample, Criminology majors, as individuals who would possibly be entering the law enforcement field or interacting with individuals in the field of law enforcement, were the only major sampled within the university.

These data were then analyzed using multiple linear regression and chi square analyses. Gender and having a family member in law enforcement were found to have a significant effect on students' perceptions of female police officers. Class standing was not found to have a significant effect on students' perceptions. These results were then discussed and possible explanations for the findings were then offered. Finally, conclusions were drawn regarding the present attitudes of future law enforcement personnel.

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Updated 05/20/2006