Small Screens and Big Streets: A Comparison of Women Police Officers on Primetime Crime Shows and in U.S. Police Departments, 1950 to 2008

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This article utilizes a longitudinal approach to assess the visibility of women as police officers in primetime crime shows from 1950 to 2008 and compares these numbers for television to actual data on women who work as police officers in the United States. We find that as expected, annual labor force data and crime show data both indicate increases in the number of minorities and women working in the criminal justice system over time. Given the robust literature on the general underrepresentation of women on television, however, we did not expect to uncover that both White and minority women are overrepresented as police officers on television every year compared to the occupational reality. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-125
Number of pages20
JournalWomen and Criminal Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014



  • gender
  • media
  • police
  • policing
  • television

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Law

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