Blog: International Women's Day - Pressing for Progress

08 March 2018

Hayley Ayley

Hayley Aley reflects on life as a female police officer

Hayley Aley, PFEW lead on Equality, marks International Women’s Day by reflecting on her experiences as a woman in policing.

Eighteen years ago this very week I walked through the doors of Warwickshire Police HQ as a nervous new recruit. Thankfully by the time I joined the “W” had already been dropped. PC0449 Preston (as was!) reporting for duty. 

My intake had its fair share of women and I saw that trend continue. By 2010 numbers of female officers in England and Wales had reached never to be repeated levels. Then austerity kicked in.

The most up to date statistics show that female officers currently make up 29 percent of the workforce and that number is once again rising. It’s encouraging but there’s still some way to go before we get to the goal of a 50/50 ratio.

As the Federation’s lead on equality I am passionate about empowering everyone to be the best they can be, and ensuring that the systems are in place to enable them to do so.

Since I was elected I have made that my mission and we have made huge steps to ensure the diversity of our members is mirrored in the composition of our boards.

At the start of this year we changed our rules and regulations to enshrine the principle of equality by ensuring that women and BME officers are proportionately represented. (I wrote more about that in another of my blogs.)

It’s a start and there is a long way to go but I am proud to say we are leading the field.

But there is more to do.

And it starts with each and every one of us. The “station stamping” and the handbag-sized truncheons (!) were long gone before I joined, but there remain pockets of bias.

It’s a subtle discrimination which seems almost engrained through society. It’s the unconscious assumptions that persist about what women are capable of and what they want from their home and work life.

This is now what must be challenged and eradicated. And we as women need to do our bit - by believing we are equal. We must tell ourselves, tell each other, tell our colleagues, tell our daughters – and our sons. “Gender does not determine ability.”

It amazes, and frustrates, me that in 2018 there is still a need for me to say that. But I will keep saying it, keep challenging inequality where ever it arises, and keep advocating that we #PressforProgress until that need ceases.

So I wish a Happy International Women’s Day to everyone - equally.