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University of Delaware aims to increase ‘gender diversity’ on police force

Goal is to have 30 percent of police recruits be female by 2030

The University of Delaware just launched a “gender diversity” initiative with the goal of increasing the number of female police officers on campus.

The Newark institution wants 30 percent of its police force to be female by 2030, according to a recent UDaily announcement.

The goal, in partnership with the 30×30 Initiative, is part of the university’s commitment “to improved inclusivity and gender diversity of its officers, staff members and administrative leaders.”

In the U.S., women represent 12 percent of sworn-in police officers and 3 percent hold leadership positions, according to the initiative, which is connected to the Policing Project at the NYU School of Law. The initiative is working with UD and approximately 80 other colleges’ police departments to increase the number of female officers.

Tanya Meisenholder, director of gender equity at the Policing Project, told The College Fix one of the initiative’s main goals is to facilitate a more inclusive environment for women.

“In addition to increasing representation, the initiative seeks to ensure agency assessments, policies, and practices are bias-free and meet the unique needs of women officers,” Meisenholder told The Fix in a recent email. “It simultaneously seeks to transform agency culture so that efforts to recruit women are accompanied by agency practices supporting retention.”

Meisenholder said she believes people who might be opposed to this initiative may misunderstand what it is about.

“The 30×30 Initiative and the 30×30 Pledge have gotten a nearly universal positive response, including many passionate advocates who have taken up the mantle of gender equity in their own agencies,” she told The Fix. “The little opposition these efforts have received has all been rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of the initiative’s objectives and how they will be achieved.”

MORE: Minneapolis teams up with NYU law school to ‘reimagine’ policing

The University of Delaware has 50 sworn-in police officers, 13 of whom are female, according to data from the university and an agency spotlight by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. This means 26 percent of the UD officers are female, indicating the department already is near the gender diversity goal.

Highlighting reasons for the effort, the 30×30 Initiative website points to research that has found female officers use less force, are named in fewer complaints, and are perceived by communities as being more honest and compassionate.

The UD police department believes having a good culture that is welcoming to everyone is important, Master Corporal Shannon Hummel said in the UDaily article.

“I’ve always felt welcome and supported here. I had a baby in 2021, and when I needed a pumping room, my male sergeant emailed me right away to ask what kind of mini-fridge I wanted. I’ve never felt any roadblocks,” Hummel said.

But another reason for fewer female officers that project leaders did not mention is simply a lack of interest in the profession.

“There are many reasons for fewer female officers, but a few of the top ones are lower levels of interest in this profession and challenges related to work-family balance given overtime is increasingly likely and pervasive,” Independent Women’s Forum Senior Fellow Meaghan Mobbs told The Fix in an email this week. “This phenomenon is due to low recruitment and retention rates, increased needs for security at events, and retirements.”

She continued: “America is in the midst of a police officer shortage. Simply, we need more qualified officers so widening engagement efforts and expanding the recruitment pool to qualified and interested females is one way to begin tackling this problem.”

The Fix also reached out to the university media office twice in the past two weeks, but did not receive a response.

MORE: NC police academy considers teaching 68 terms for ‘gender identity’

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Scott Giebel is a graduate assistant for sports information at Wheeling University where he is pursuing an MBA. He previously received his bachelor’s degree in Sports Journalism at Millersville University. While there he wrote for the Athletic Communications Department as well as for 717 Sports Media.