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Women on SWAT teams: separate but equal?

Mary Dodge (School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA)
Laura Valcore (School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA)
Frances Gomez (Aurora, Colorado Police Department, Denver, Colorado, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 8 November 2011




This article aims to examine male and female police officers' perspectives concerning women participating on special weapons and tactical (SWAT) teams. The study seeks to explore differences in opinions on a woman's ability to gain entrance and perform in a traditionally male‐dominated subculture.


A self‐report survey was distributed to a purposive sample of 202 police officers in the US. Male SWAT officers and females from seven agencies responded to 13 Likert‐type items and provided demographic information on years of experience, rank, and race.


The results show that male SWAT members are somewhat receptive to a woman becoming a team member; however, they are more likely than women to believe that females lack the needed strength and skills. Female officers perceive themselves as competent and valuable additions to SWAT.

Research limitations/implications

Although the research is exploratory and the findings are difficult to generalize, the results suggest that law enforcement's militaristic nature and role specialization continue to impede integrating female officers into SWAT subcultures.


This study is the first to employ quantitative methods to explore police officers' attitudes and gender's role in SWAT assignments.



Dodge, M., Valcore, L. and Gomez, F. (2011), "Women on SWAT teams: separate but equal?", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 699-712.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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