Since the passage of the 1972 Amendments to the Civil Rights Act, many police departments have eliminated discriminatory personnel policies, but the impact of these changes is largely unexplored. This article examines evidence of change in the status of women in municipal police agencies in the past decade, based on the responses of 319 agencies serving populations over 50,000 to a mail survey.

The data indicate that the proportion of women in large and medium-sized police departments has increased from 4.2 percent of sworn personnel in 1978 to 8.8 percent in 1986. The proportion of women supervisors also has increased during the same period. Currently women are accepted as recruits in proportion to their representation among the applicants, but they still constitute a small proportion (20 percent) of the applicant pool. Women now are assigned to field operations units (principally patrol) in proportion to their representation in policing. Affirmative action policies have had a major impact on the current entry rate and overall representation of women in policing although some changes have occurred across the board. The paper concludes with some policy recommendations for accelerating the slow pace of change in the status of women in policing.