Law enforcement and many other criminal justice careers have traditionally been male dominated professions. In recent decades, however, the number of women in the criminal justice system has noticeably started to increase. According to the Women in Law Enforcement, 1987-2008 study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics there were about 100,000 female officers in 2008 working at the federal, state, and local levels. At large federal law enforcement agencies those with more than 500 officers, the numbers of females employed increased by 16 percent in the decade from 1998 to 2008. The study also showed that in 2007 female officers made up about 12 percent of the total at local law enforcement agencies. Although these numbers show that women are still in the minority, in this profession, they also reflect that a greater number of women are seeing the benefits of earning a criminal justice degree.
Today criminal justice careers for women exist in the same areas that they do for males. Jobs like police officers and correctional officers, for instance, are roles that were once prohibited to interested females. Changing laws and social standards, however, have drastically changed this mindset and female officers show that women can effectively help promote public safety. Moreover, the presence of female officers shows that working in the field is not just about brute strength. Female officers can be a calming presence to victims of violent crimes such as rapes and when dealing with child victims. Studies have also shown that female officers tend to possess better communication skills, instill trust, and are better able to defuse situations without relying on physical force. With a degree, women are not just working as entry level officers. Instead, they are taking advantage of promotion offerings and working as detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, captains, and department chiefs.
Women in the criminal justice system, however, are not limited to jobs in security and corrections. With a criminal justice degree women can choose to work in the court system as a paralegal or victims advocate. They can also become criminal lawyers and work as public defenders, work for a law firm, or set up private practice. Through this career track, female lawyers can flex and improve their knowledge of the law. Some even become legal analysts and commentators becoming recognized in the field and by the general public.
Jobs in the criminal justice system also include working in forensics. A forensic scientist, for instance, analyzes crime scene evidence to help identify the perpetrator. Females employed in this area analyze blood samples, match fingerprints, examine blood splatters to recreate what happened, and match bullets to the gun used to fire them. Women in the criminal justice system who become forensic scientists get the chance to be called as experts in their field and can find employment opportunities at police departments, morgues, and hospitals.
In addition to fields more commonly associated with criminal justice, there is a high demand for criminal justice professionals in practically all industries. Financial crimes, for instance, are highly prevalent. Experts in this arena look into embezzlements, fraud, and tax evasion. Skilled females with accounting and criminal justice knowledge can work for federal agencies or in the private sector.
For highly physically active females interested in private security there are a range of exciting and challenging criminal justice careers for women. A bounty hunter, for instance, works to capture criminals who have skipped out on bail for a financial incentive. Female bounty hunters are considered just as competent as their male counterparts and several have even been featured on reality TV shows. Another option is a private investigator. Investigative officers work to gather facts in various types of situations including cheating spouse, workers compensation fraud, preventing theft in retail stores, tracking down debtors, and process serving. Their ability to appear less threatening and look at cases from a different angle than their male peers makes women natural investigators who are highly coveted in the investigative field.
Criminal justice careers for women is an electrifying career path. The atmosphere is perfect for women looking for a stimulating career with plenty of advancement opportunity and high job security. As the 21st century unfolds, and more women work to earn a criminal justice degree, society will benefit. Hiring more women will mean greater workplace diversity. A diverse criminal justice environment allows new ideas and concepts to flourish. These ideas can mean greater public safety, a reduction in crime, and increased public awareness of criminal justice.