Gender difference or indifference? Detective decision making in sexual assault cases.

The mandate to hire more female police officers nationwide has not led to an increase in sympathy towards female sexual assault victims, as was previously hoped for.


Summary: This study sought to test the hypothesis that hiring more female law enforcement personnel would result in more sexual assault arrests because it has been thought that women are more sympathetic to sexual assault victims.   Three hundred twenty eight sexual assault cases in the Midwest that occurred between January and August of 2003 were examined.  Five independent and control variables were significantly related to the arrest dependent variable: detective gender, witness presence, resistance, rape kit refusal, and whether there were questions regarding victim character.  31% of sexual assault cases where a male detective was assigned to the case resulted in arrest.  While 19% of sexual assault cases assigned to a female detective resulted in arrest.  It had been previously suggested that hiring more female law enforcement officials would lead to more sensitivity towards female crime victims, which then led to hiring mandates throughout law enforcement agencies in the United States.  This study suggests that these hiring mandates may be causing more harm than good because in some cases women criminal justice professionals may be harsher towards female sexual assault victims.  


Application: This study shows that many female sexual assault victims may not have the assumed female police officer support behind their case.

Limitations:  This study examined only one police department in the Midwest. 



Alderden, M.& Ullman, S.
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Journal of Interpersonal Violence
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