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Hampshire Police Federation

#BreakTheBias: Zoe Wakefield, Chair of Hampshire Police Federation, reflects on #InternationalWomensDay

8 March 2022


Zoe Wakefield, Chair of Hampshire Police Federation, reflects on #InternationalWomensDay

I have lost count of the number of times I have been called a ‘policeman’ or a ‘policeman lady’ over my 27 years in policing. I have also been referred to as a ‘lumpy jumper’ and ‘Tampax commando’. I have been in many meetings and training sessions where the speaker refers to the audience as ‘men’ or ‘chaps’. Since becoming the first female chair of Hampshire Police Federation, I have been referred to as a ‘Chairman’ by many.

Will we ever eradicate this type of language? Only if we educate each other. Education is the key to breaking the bias. Everyone should feel that they can challenge when non-inclusionary language is used. Some don’t even realise they are doing it.

Fortunately, policing has come a long way in terms of gender equality. The number of women joining the police has risen around 10% over the last 30 years; more women are being promoted into higher ranks and being successful in applying for specialist roles.

However, there is still a long way to go. We still see some officers with misogynistic views and attitudes. We need to call these people out if we ever want to get to a place of true gender equality and to break the bias.