Women and Men Police Officers

Status, Gender, and Personality

by Gwendolyn L. Gerber


Challenges traditional stereotypes about gender and examines the impact of status and gender on police officers who work together.

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May 2001


Pages 248
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Psychology/General
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Challenging traditional beliefs about gender, Gerber develops a new model for understanding gender--the status model of gender stereotyping. She examines how expectations about status and gender impact police offers who work together as partners. Her study includes same-sex police partnerships as well as partnerships in which a woman works with a man.

Interviews with police officers highlight the findings from Gerber's large-scale study of police partnerships. She explores what underlies gender stereotyping--why men appear to have more assertive or instrumental personality traits and women appear to have more accommodating or expressive traits. According to Gerber's status model, instrumental traits are associated with high status, and expressive traits are associated with low status; therefore, men and women only appear to have different personality traits because men have higher status than women. The book provides a provocative analysis for scholars and researchers in gender studies, criminal justice, psychology, and sociology, as well as for those involved in the supervision and training of police.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Women and Men in PolicingThe Status Model of Gender StereotypingStatus Characteristics Theory and the Gender-Stereotyped Personality TraitsDescription of the Study: The Sample of Police Partners and MeasuresStatus and Personality: The Dominating, Instrumental, and Expressive TraitsCoping with Low Status: The Verbal-Aggressive and Submissive TraitsPolice Officers Who Violate Gender Norms: The Bipolar TraitsSelf-Esteem: The Impact of Status and Personality TraitsThe Patterning of Traits within Individual PersonalityStatus, Gender, and Personality: Towards an Integrated TheoryImplications for PolicingAppendixNotesReferencesIndex



Gerber began this research with a desire to better understand the diffuculties faced by women police officers in being accepted as officers who are equally as competent as their male counterparts. Her findings need not be limited to women in uniform. Indeed, her research is applicable to women in all domains of woek, especially those women who are working in male-typed jobs. What began as an investigation with women and men officers and their supervisors in New York City's police department, eventually led to information that provides with a clearer understanding of how status-related expectations guide interactions, affect personality attributions at work, and ultimately perpetuate stereotypes about women and men.—Psychology of Women Quarterly

[a]pplicable to women in all domains of work, especially those women who are working in male-typed jobs....[p]rovides us with a clearer understanding of how status-related expectations guide interactions, affect personality attributions at work, and ultimately perpetuate stereotypes about women and men.—Psychology of Women Quarterly

This book is highly recommended as a text that is useful to both scholars and graduate students in a variety of disciplines interested in gender issues. Practitioners such as police supervisors, police officers, police officers in training, security professionals and staff, police counselors and risk management officers would benifit from reading it. Gerber's book is also highly recommended for affirmative action officers who are in charge of recruiting and retaining female officers as well as affirmative action officers in other fields....[h]er skillful use of language and rich description would enable a multilayered level of understanding of her work for undergraduate and graduate students and fully engage professionals and practitioners in a variety of fields.—Sex Roles


This is a highly original and creative piece of work. It has theoretical implications with respect to different scholarly disciplines and it has very practical implications with respect to the composition and use of police terms.—Joseph Berger^LProfessor of Sociology, Emeritus^LStanford University

I think the book is fascinating and will be a real contribution to the literature on policing and workers in general. I like to see scholars question the nonlithic image of police officers.—Nancy C. Jurik^LProfessor in the School of Justice Studies^LArizona State University

Gwendolyn Gerber's ground-breaking book is a significant contribution to the understanding of gender stereotyping. Her research with police officers illuminates the way status and gender shape personality. Most important, she develops a theoretical model in the book that integrates the study of gender-stereotyped personality traits into the broader study of social interaction.—Margot Nadien^LAssociate Professor of Psychology^LDepartment of Psychology^LFordham University

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