Jennifer Atherton, president of the newly formed Dallas Police Women’s Association, said she and other female officers are determined to establish a support system for women, increase their opportunities and fight a culture that can involve harassment and sexism, the Dallas Morning News reports. “It’s tough on women — this job, this culture,” Atherton said. “It’s just such a small line that she just kind of throws out there, but it was true at that time. Nobody talked about it. It was whispered about.” Unions created specifically for female officers appear to be rare among local police agencies., where women make up about 14 percent of sworn officers and a smaller percentage of leadership roles, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Atherton said she was inspired in part by her own experiences. She recalled a past supervisor who she said wouldn’t look her in the eye, communicated to her through her male partner and labeled her — and not her male colleagues — disrespectful if she spoke up during meetings. The first coalition began in 2018 as a Facebook group now called “Sisters,” which has about 350 members. That informal effort led to change. In 2018, Atherton and other officers communicated there to help one another create lactation rooms in every Dallas police substation. Previously, women had to sit on toilets or in conference rooms to use a breast pump.