Gender, Representative Bureaucracy, and Law Enforcement: The Case of Sexual Assault


Kenneth J. Meier is the Charles H. Gregory Chair in Liberal Arts and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University and a professor of public management at Cardiff University, Wales. Although he believes that every important question in public administration and organization theory can be answered using data from Texas school districts, in this case, he has made an exception. His current research projects focus on building a quantitative theory of public management and the role of race, ethnicity, and gender in public policy.

Jill Nicholson-Crotty is an assistant professor at the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri–Columbia. Her research focuses on the management of public and nonprofit organizations and the interaction of these sectors in the implementation of public policy.


Using the theory of representative bureaucracy, this paper investigates the relationship between women police officers and sexual assault reports and arrests. The theoretical contribution is to establish a case in which representation is likely to occur, even without a conscious effort on the part of the bureaucrat involved but simply because of the shared experiences of the bureaucrat and the client. Based on a pooled time series of 60 urban areas over an eight-year time frame, this study finds that the percentage of women police officers is positively associated with the number of reports of sexual assault and with the number of arrests for sexual assault.