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Policy Quarterly


Despite decades of calls to diversify policing, women continue to be underrepresented in the field, and this problem compounds when looking up the ranks. One explanation is that police organizations are “gendered” in that their structures, processes, and cultures support men’s career advancement over women’s. To investigate this possibility, we analyzed survey results from 685 women police officers to examine whether career advancement is influenced by the composition of an agency’s promotional process. Most agencies used a combination of testing components, with written exams being the most common, but also a heavy reliance on interviews, assessment centers, and career portfolios. Exam format had a limited impact on women’s career advancement, while agency type, age, and education level were all significant correlates of women’s interest in promotions and career advancement.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Sage in Police Quarterly on May 14, 2022, available online:

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