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Gendered messages in police recruitment: Understanding the impacts of descriptors and physical fitness requirements on potential applicants

Michael Francis Aiello ( State University of New York at Fredonia , Fredonia, New York, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 2 October 2018

Issue publication date: 23 May 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

Prior research established several important influences on the representation of women in policing, using a variety of secondary and primary data. The purpose of this paper is to examine how experimental manipulation of online recruitment materials impacts potential applicants.

Design/methodology/approach

The study relied on a census of 11 criminal justice courses taught at a public university, asking students to respond to an experimental vignette instrument (n=174). The 3×2 experimental vignette involved manipulation of two variables: the identification of recruits with diversity language (“individuals,” “women and men” or “a diverse group of individuals”) and mention or absence of discussion of physical fitness requirements.

Findings

Results largely run counter to prior research concerning women in policing, with women actually indicating increased probability of providing their contact information when encountering vignettes with physical fitness requirements.

Originality/value

This study demonstrates that small manipulations of recruitment content can have significant and gendered impact on potential applicants. This paper provides a foundation for empirical study of how changes in online recruitment materials impact a variety of relevant outcomes relating to applicant behaviors.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Dr Randolph Hohle for his advice and feedback concerning the outcome variables for this study. In addition, the helpful comments from anonymous reviewers and editorial staff significantly improved the final paper.

Citation

Aiello, M.F. (2019), "Gendered messages in police recruitment: Understanding the impacts of descriptors and physical fitness requirements on potential applicants", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 42 No. 3, pp. 455-473. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-05-2018-0072

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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