What Works

The social science for advancing women in policing

Research and Innovation

The 30×30 Initiative is built on decades of social science research that shows the unique benefits women officers bring to policing agencies.

“What Works” is our ever-growing repository showcasing the social science on which the 30×30 Initiative is built. Here you will find relevant resources and summaries of the latest research on the experiences of women in policing, as well as concrete, evidence-informed steps that agencies can take to address the barriers that hold women back at every stage of their careers.

Decades of research shows the benefits of increasing women’s representation in policing. This is how we make it happen.

30×30: An Introduction to the Evidence Behind Our Movement

A succinct and clear introduction to the evidence behind 30×30, our mission, and how policing agencies are partnering with us to advance women in policing.

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Decades of work from experts on policing, workplace equity, and organizational efficacy has shown that gender diversity greatly benefits organizations. This guide aggregates research on the “why” behind advancing women in policing, as well as the “how.”

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How to Create a Supportive Environment for Women in Policing

Developed by the National Center for Women & Policing, this manual is designed to help agencies examine their policies and procedures and to identify and remove obstacles to hiring and retaining sworn and civilian women employees at all levels within the organization. The guide also provides a list of resources for agencies to use when planning or implementing changes to their current policies and procedures.

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Women officers when promoted to positions of power, often positively influence policy and culture to result in better outcomes for community members, and public safety as a whole. Yet despite these benefits, women are severely under-represented in policing leadership, and similar issues that prevent women officers from advancing their careers appear across agencies. We’ll discuss the most common barriers and their solutions here.

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Focus groups are a way for agencies to create a dedicated space and time for employees to share their experiences, and can generate a wealth of information to help identify areas for improving the experiences of women officers. This toolkit, developed by Dr. Natalie Todak of the University of Alabama at Birmingham is designed to help agencies carry out their own in-house focus groups.

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Published by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) within the U.S. Department of Justice, this guide provides an overview of policy components and promising practices that can improve the experience of officers and their families in law enforcement.

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This is a guidebook published by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) that outlines the current resources for law enforcement agencies about how to promote a diverse workforce through various staffing mechanisms.

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Explicit gender discrimination, a lack of institutional support, and a male-dominated culture in police departments all contribute to why women officers leave departments—and perpetuate the feedback loop of gender disparities in the police force. This paper analyzes these findings and explores ways to address the structural and cultural inequities that lead to the gender gap in the police force.

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We have examined more than 100 pieces of social scientific literature that cover existing practices in policing, 25 of which specifically address existing barriers and potential avenues to recruit and assess potential women officers more effectively. This summary synthesizes their findings and provides recommended courses of action from the 30×30 Pledge.

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The Office of the Inspector General for the City of Chicago released an evaluation of the demographic impacts of the Chicago Police Department’s hiring practices. The article explores the demographic differences in attrition rates of officers during the hiring process and if there is a certain stage within the process that may have an impact on the demographic composition of the officer candidate pool.

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Promising Practices from the Field

Captain Julie Scribner from the Vermont State Police discusses how the agency worked to ensure safe spaces for nursing mothers when returning to the work place. (A transcript of this conversation is available via the “Download Resource” bottom below.)

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Officer Terry Cherry from the Charleston Police Department discusses how to use a data-driven approach to drive, assess, and refine recruitment to reach more diverse applicants.  (A transcript of this conversation is available via the “Download Resource” bottom below.)


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“We are the 28” is an initiative launched by the Madison Police Department in January 2020 to highlight the nationally significant number of women MPD commissioned personnel (28% of the department!). This video is an example of a recruitment campaign that centers intersectionality in its approach.

University of Colorado Police Department:

Coming Soon

  • Stops, Arrests, and Use of Force Outcomes
  • Recruitment and Assessment
  • Understanding the Lifecycle of Women Officer’s Careers
  • Creating an inclusive workplace culture
  • • And more…