Policewomen Need to Be Overweight to Pass?

policewomanAn interesting report appeared over the week end from Professor Craig Jackson, head of psychology at  Birmingham University. He conducted a study into a fitness test for new police recruits; what he discovered has caused him to call for it to be removed as he thinks it ‘unfit for purpose’.

And the reason why? His research has found that it discriminates against women and is favourably biased towards overweight officers. His findings will be published in the Occupational Medicine Journal and, unsurprisingly, have been contested by the police who say he didn’t look at a large enough cross representation of police forces and researched within only one (he looked at 1,701 candidates over 5 years in a metropolitan force).

I don’t think the police authorities should be so complacent.

Jackson’s report found that women were 9 times more likely to fail than men and that they had to undertake the test, an obstacle course, amidst a welter of sexist catcalls and jeering. He commented:

“When I’ve seen this test being applied, it is a little bit like a very sexist meat market,” he said.

Lots of male officers gather around whilst the female recruits bounce and jiggle and run around, and they’re wolf whistling and clapping – it’s quite a sexist environment to be in.”

This highlights the need for all our institutions to double check their attitudes. It also highlights what happens when there aren’t enough of BOTH Genders at the top and why we need to get our act together *re gender equality; one police force or ten, it’s totally unacceptable.

Last week I had a little fun on Twitter (@JaneCWoods) with Dr Lucy Worsley who tweeted:

@Lucy_WorsleyOn again tonight at 8, BBC Four – Harlots, Housewives and Heroines: A 17th Century History for Girls, Act One bbc.in/IWc36u

I responded:

@Lucy_Worsley Sounds like a description of way modern media treats women… ;>)

It was tongue in cheek but making a serious point. This attitude to women is gradually being challenged and eradicated but you have to wonder what happens to the non police women these police recruits come into contact with. If sexist attitudes are built into their training I have little confidence in their ability to apply the law equally.

*Most recent Home Office figures, for March 2012, show 17 of the 44 police forces do not have a female in the three most senior ranks of assistant, deputy or chief constable. Only five of the 44 forces have a member of an ethnic minority in one of the top jobs. Of the 220 officers in the top three ranks only 36 are women, while just six are from an ethnic minority.

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Posted on September 9th, 2013 by

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