Former SFPD Deputy Chief Lyn Tomioka oversaw the gun buyback, along with more than eight officers in August 2013.

Female San Francisco Police Department officers continue to suffer from gender inequalities within the department, and many of them are relegated to desk jobs, despite research indicating that women are “better able to neutralize escalating situations, and less likely to use excessive force than men” in the field.  

That’s according to a report released Monday by the city’s Department on the Status of Women. It sought to analyze barriers to and opportunities for advancement in a police department with roughly 2,300 officers, 15 percent of whom are women. 

“Sworn women felt they had to prove themselves again and again to be taken seriously and afforded the same opportunities as sworn men,” concluded the study, which drew on interviews and focus groups with female officers, as well as department data. 

Although the report found that women were promoted at a slightly higher rate than men — 14 percent of female officers received promotions vs. 9 percent of male officers — women were more likely to receive administrative and investigative assignments. By contrast, men dominated patrol and special assignments in, for example, the motorbike, gang task force and K-9 units. 

Female officers “reported that where women work in the SFPD often aligned with gender stereotypes and attitudes that women belong behind a desk rather than on the street,” the report says. 

Furthermore, the 13 percent of women assigned to patrol units at district stations like the Mission, Tenderloin, and Central police stations, still felt as though they were more likely to be given administrative roles, instead of actually patrolling the street, the report found.  

Other female officers, meanwhile, felt that getting positions in specialized units was “nearly impossible.” 

Patrol and specialized unit assignments are important for every officer, according to the report: These assignments are “where acts of bravery are more commonly called for, resulting in recognition in the form of awards and commendations.”

So it’s no surprise that these numbers are skewed as well. From 2015 to 2017, one in 10 commendations and awards went to women, according to the report. No women in those years received the highest levels of awards — gold and silver medals of valor. And the female officers who did receive the awards were mostly white. 

Moreover, white women held seven of the nine high-ranking positions held by female officers, while the other two were held by black women. 

There were also issues with training. Women, who on average comprise 17 percent of applicants, are also graduating from the academy at lower rates than men: From 2012 to 2018, 73 percent of women graduated compared to 83 percent of men. In spite of this, the women who did graduate from the academy completed their field training at higher rates than their male counterparts — with 82 percent of women passing, compared to 70 percent of men.  

Overall, the report says, female officers “expressed frustration at perceived double standards when it came to expectations of sworn women compared to men.” 

The report recommended that the SFPD make a better effort at hiring more women, guiding female officers toward promotions, promoting more equity in assignments and training, among others. 

The report’s conclusion: “Eliminating gender bias and stereotypes in the SFPD can also have broader impacts from increasing the recruitment of diverse candidates to an improved response to violence against women and reducing incidents of excessive force.” 

In a statement, Chief Bill Scott expressed the desire to improve, saying, “Sworn women are a valuable and essential part of the San Francisco Police Department and I am committed to addressing their concerns regarding diversity and equity.”

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8 Comments

  1. So in the middle of this litany of complaints there is this line: “…commendations and awards went to women, according to the report. No women in those years received the highest levels of awards — gold and silver medals of valor. And the female officers who did receive the awards were mostly white.

    Moreover, white women held seven of the nine high-ranking positions held by female officers, while the other two were held by black women. ”

    Is there some imaginary racial quota that isn’t being met? So women are promoted at a higher rate than men within SFPD, but the crime that offsets that SFPD achievement is that more white women won medals than black women? Oh, brother, 1st world problems – imaginary ones at that.

    1. I hesitate to even try and get you to comprehend the content of this article or the world around you, but I’ll give it a shot.

      There’s a concept in social justice called intersectionality (you may hear it summarized as “no one is free until we’re all free” or “you cant dance with your boot on someone else’s neck”) and the idea is that there’s discrimination against many different groups in this society and some people fall into multiple groups, so while you fight to eliminate one discrimination you need to work to include and help fight against discrimination of over groups that overlap. Imagine it as a venn diagram of inequality. So there are women, and they’re being held back by institutional structures in the SFPD and there are non white people who are also being held back by institutional structures within the SFPD AND THEN there are NON WHITE WOMEN who represent the intersection of both who are being held back by institutional structures within the SFPD. It’s important to see the impact on that intersection as well as the specific kind of gender discrimination they were researching to begin with.

      Also, you’re using “first world problems” wrong. Even in the joking way that phrase began it was never meant to stop us from trying to improve our society. It was supposed to get people to not complain about how their Starbucks wasnt flavored with enough syrup while people starved in other countries. Just because someone else has it bad doesnt mean we shouldn’t work constantly to improve equality in our own society.

      Plus you cherry picked two different lines from the article like a jerk. They weren’t related to each other. The first part is about how women getting promoted more often doesnt change the fact that they’re not getting promoted evenly through departments and positions that are dangerous and instead are being promoted to desk work. The second half is about how women get fewer commendations than men and non white women get even fewer than that.

      Do you also need me to come to the store with you and help you comprehend your grocery list?

      1. If we are talking about how black women have more challenges than non-black women due to intersectionality, it says that 2 of the 9 women in the highest ranking positions are black. Is that not 22% +/-, higher than the black percentage of the US at 13.4%, and the SF Bay Area black percentage of 6.7%? If anything, it sounds like black women are doing better than expected compared to other women in these roles.

        1. That’s a percentage of the leadership roles of female officers, so you’d need to compare it to officers in general and Male officers of color to see how they’re doing as well as comparing it to how many black women were on the force overall to get a sense of how they were doing as a whole in the SFPD. But I dont know their circumstances overall because the overall study wasnt focused on that but included the additional worthwhile information.

          My overall tone and statement was in response to the original comment I responded to, but your point is good and it’s possible that in the SFPD women of color are succeeding at high rates. Doesnt change that there’s not “an imaginary racial quota” or it being “first world problems”. But that would be exciting if accurate. Though it doesnt factor in other women of color and is just representative of high ranking positions of female SFPD cops and there were only 9 overall (also doesnt mention the total number of high ranking officers so it could be a super low percentage as a starting point if for instance there are 185 high ranking officers) so it means that Hispanic women and Asian women hold zero positions of high rank. Which is also is a part of intersectionality.

          But overall the OP seems like hes purposefully being a dick so I came in hot.

          1. Law Enforcement is a different ball game than promotions in other companies. You need to actually have experience on the street and experience supervising other Officers below you on a critical incident, and be able to discuss tactics in a high stress environment.
            Who cares what gender you are or what your skin color is. This should NOT be a reason why someone gets promoted in Law Enforcement. I want someone I can look up to and take orders from when I respond to a critical incident, or who knows what to do and has a plan in place. Whether that’s a female or male, white, black, Asian etc. I’m not looking. At your physical description, I’m looking for a plan of action and a leader.

            This nonsense of having an equal amount of race and gender in each supervisory position is ridiculous and it’s created an atmosphere in SFPD where good people are being passed over because they aren’t the right gender or don’t have the right skin color. This leads to have bosses that are unqualified and have no idea how to supervise, or they show up on scenes and have no idea what to do and just stand there. Several admin positions have been created for the people that have been promoted that aren’t qualified to supervise on the street.

            Promotions should be merit based. Based on your experience and your personnel file, as well as second criteria. And that’s it. Your name, gender, and race shouldn’t factor in, and if the promotion list was just based on a number it’s your personnel file, second criteria, and experience, we wouldn’t have the bosses we have now. There are some that are great, some mediocre, and some who should have never been promoted in the first place.

  2. This is one of the many problems at the heart of why cops are terrible. Toxic masculinity plays a huge role in how cops act towards victims and criminals alike. The people attracted to this kind of job, compounded by a culture of trying to commit “acts of bravery” and toxic masculinity are gonna keep getting people shot. If you want a medal, you’re not going to try to turn a situation from something intense into something calm. You’re going to escalate. Having a diverse group of people on the streets and not basing their promotions on “acts of bravery” would be a step in the right direction.

    Plus, if I were to be sexually assaulted or raped I dont know that I would report at all based on my many negative experiences with the police in SF and my hometown (as a lower middle class white woman with no criminal record, mind you) but I certainly wouldn’t want to be reporting that shit to a man. But the odds are when you call the police or walk into a police station it will be a man.

    Maybe San Francisco PD can surprise me and lead the country in gender equality in its recruitment, hiring practices and assignments following this study. I think it would do wonders for a department that has had several scandals involving sex. Maybe oakland could learn something too.

  3. I’m a female in this department, and a majority of the females choose to not be on patrol and choose to be in administration positions for a majority of their career. These are the people, regardless of their gender, that I most certainly do not want to be my patrol sergeant or LT or captain, as they did not get the street experience that a lot of male officers got when they promoted.

    This is a choice made by several women in my department that choose to have desk jobs due to their families, or scheduling for their families, or even just because they do not want to be on patrol. At the same time, I have several bosses that are female that have been on patrol their entire career and are great bosses for patrol. I’ve also had several bosses that were male that were not great.

    The numbers are never going to be even due to personal choices, and should not be even. It should be based on their experience during their career and what they are suited to supervising. If you’ve gone your entire career behind a desk at legal or doing certain investigations, you simply do not have the experience to supervise out in the field.

    If you actually did a survey on members choices in this department, instead of just doing a number based survey to see where each gender is without asking their reasoning behind it or whether they chose to be in that particular position, your findings would most likely be drastically different, as you will find a majority of those women are in the admin positions they asked for, and promoted for.

  4. there is well documented scientific data siting the biological/social proclivity for men to pursue dangerous occupations, vocations, and recreational activities at a much higher rates than women. this in most cases is a result free choice. there are many dangerous jobs and activities that are available to women that a majority do not choose to engage in. it is not beyond the pale to extend the logic that these gender tendencies are an integral aspect of the choice of dangerous vs. less dangerous assignments in law enforcement. siting bias as the default reason it isn’t necessarily correct .

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