Women Policing in China: Separate but Equal?

Anqi Shen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    The existing literature about women in policing in the developed West suggests that female officers have experienced gender-related discrimination and marginalization. Jennifer Brown identified a model of women’s integration into policing in 1997 that encapsulates women’s evolution in the police organization. It sets the ultimate goal of women being numerically equal to men and enjoying equal opportunities with men in the police and any other profession. This chapter examines whether this model may apply effectively to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a country that does not have many parallels, nor many shared cultures, with the Western, developed jurisdictions. In doing so, it introduces women in policing in mainland China. More specifically, it discusses women’s entry into policing, female representation in the public security police, and female officers’ current status, integration, and gendered challenges in the police. The conclusion questions whether the “Western” model is applicable to women policing in China, where there are unique local agendas and approaches for gender equality. It also points out that future research should empirically investigate how women officers view their position within the police, as well as how male officers, police forces, and the general public perceive female police officers’ occupational identities, their roles and contributions to policing, and to what extent this impacts women’s integration. Policing has long been a male-dominated occupation and once was considered an “all-boys club.”1 Jennifer Brown, who examined women in policing in major countries in the Western, developed world, worked out a model that illustrates six sequential stages of women’s integration into policing, including entry, separate restricted development, integration, take-off, reform, and tip-over.2 At the final stage, when the numbers of women in policing reach the “tip-over” stage, women shall “play a fuller part in all aspects of policing, and achieve higher rank in greater numbers” and have a greater impact on mainstream policing.3 This chapter will explore whether Brown’s model applies effectively in China, a country that does not have many parallels, nor many shared cultures, with those in the West (or the “Global North,” comprising the developed countries in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and Britain). In doing so, it discusses the evolution of women in the Chinese police: from their entry into policing to the current status of women police in their profession, including their integration and the gendered challenges they face.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWomen Policing the World: Shared Challenges and Successes in the Integration of Women Police Worldwide
    Editors Kathryn Knigge
    Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
    PublisherRowman and Littlefield
    ISBN (Print)978-1-5381-1612-8
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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