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In the last thirty years legal barriers to the employment of women in correction have been removed. Larger numbers of women are now employed in this sector, but there are still issues relating to the concentration of female employees in certain jobs or facilities (horizontal segregation) and at certain levels in correctional organizations (vertical segregation). In the corrections context the segregation between administration and “frontline” staff, often expressed in the terms “contact” and “non-contact” may disguise deep prejudices about what kind of work is “appropriate” for men and for women. This kind of prejudice is hard to remove. The barriers which now exist are more likely to be cultural and social, as male employees seek to maintain their dominant position. Men are more likely to appoint men, and some of the prevailing cliches about violence and control favour a masculine view of the world. The issue of women being hampered in their career progression by the dominance of men is common in many areas of employment and not just in corrections. There has been extensive work on the “glass ceiling effect” which is what happens when invisible barriers are placed in the way to prevent women from having equal chances against men. (Wirth, 2001) Studies have shown that gender stereotyping has often used by male correction officers in the past to argue oppose integration of male and female staff. Women’s alleged weakness and vulnerability to rape from prisoners, for example, has been often cited as evidence that women officers in prisons are a security risk. In previous years subtle practices like height and weight requirements filtered out many women from particular roles, but nowadays the arguments used for the preferment of men are more likely to be made on the basis of security concerns, or alternatively the rights of prisoners, the majority of whom are men, to have their privacy respected by keeping their living quarters free of the presence of women. Scholars have pointed out that the evidence from the 1980s and early 1990s shows a greater awareness of the issues, but a mixed result in terms of actual career chances for Women. From the mid 1990s onward there is evidence of considerable intervention and positive action to address equal opportunities in correctional facilities. Key achievements such as the appointment of Kathleen Hawk as the first female Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 1992 are evidence of this. Some of the barriers to women’s success are due to the long traditions that have been built up in training and on the job which unintentionally favour men. Feinman describes for example the tendency of women to achieve lower scores than men on a rifle shooting exercise which was addressed at first by offering women extra training. It was noticed that the rifles were unnecessarily heavy: “A new lighter and more effective rifle was selected, and women achieved very high scores immediately” (Feinman, 1994, p. 168) Other factors such as the location of many male prisons in rural areas can make it difficult for women with children to relocate in order to take up promotion opportunities. A minority of women in senior positions also means that there is a lack of female role models and mentors for future generations. ...Show more
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Gender and Sexual Studies. Literature Review: women in corrections. Introduction This literature review explores the thesis statement that “Despite gender differences and favoritism, women in corrections can have satisfying and gratifying careers.” The study is structured to review the historical background to women in corrections, and the contemporary provisions to promote equal opportunities for women in corrections…
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