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Misogyny in promotion process due to part-time working, says panel

End the misogyny in promotion process by giving flexible workers more opportunities, says Branch Secretary of Norfolk Federation Sam Hawkins.
Published - 10/06/2021 By - Chloe Livadeas

Fifteen years ago Ms Hawkins was promoted as a part-time Inspector in Norfolk. Since then only one other part time female officer had been promoted to the same rank, she told the Federation's annual conference. 

“It is difficult particularly if you've got children and caring responsibilities," she said. "There's this thing that policing is 24/7 - we need you to manage your shift, you need to be responsible, you can't work part time because your team won't see you on those days.”

When Ms Hawkins was first promoted as an Inspector she was told she couldn’t be a sector Inspector because she wasn’t full time.

“The sort of roles I had were very limited, and not very challenging for my personal development,” she said. “So, yes, that is still very much an issue. I have 30 years’ service now. And it's slow.”

Ms Hawkins said male officers experience the same issues around flexible working, but predominantly it was women and a lot of female officers come to her on this issue. 

“We really need to look at how we can maximise what our flexible workers can give us," she said. "Let's look more creatively at the roles.”

She told the conference: “These officers that work flexibly have the same skills and abilities. I was a full-time Sergeant when I had my first child. And when I then came back part time, the change in attitude and treatment towards me was quite stark. And I remember sort of shaking my head and thinking nothing has changed, I'm still the same person still have skills to offer this organisation. The only thing that has changed is that I'm not working full time.”

Mark Travis, speaking on the panel as the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for sexual harassment, said recently the force had a superintendents board without one female applicant. “That’s tragic,” he said.  

He went on to say: “I think we need to look really hard at our selection processes, the way in which we support people, the way in which we mentor and coach people and to really reach down into the organisation and pull people through because they've got the right talent. I’m not talking about compromising on standards - pull the people through the right talent, and make sure that we represent the communities that we serve.”

Also on the panel was Chief Constable of Derbyshire Rachel Swan. She said it needs to be acknowledged that misogyny does still exist in policing in 2021, and echoed Ms Wakefield’s point. “Some people will say Oh, that's the female chief,” she said “But they wouldn't say that's the male chief. It's just things like that, which just add to that there is some sort of difference that makes it seem in some way less, when it when it isn't at all.”

Zoe Wakefield, chair of the Hampshire Federation, echoed CC Swan. She’s been chair for close to year and said: “The number of times I’ve been referred to as a chairman.”

“It's not hurtful, but it's annoying. Because actually don’t people respect the fact that I'm a female, and I've done well to get to this position?”

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