The Royal Barbados Police Force has come in for criticism from a gender equality advocate over the limited number of female officers promoted last week.
Of the 56 officers elevated, six were women, including one who received a double promotion from the post of inspector to superintendent, while another was one of ten officers who went up in rank from station sergeant to inspector.
However, Chairman of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Gender Affairs Committee Makala Beckles-Jordan said this was not good enough.
She said the notion that only a handful of women were eligible to rise in rank within the police force was too difficult a pill to swallow.
“We can safely say that in some Government institutions and in some private sector organizations we still see that they tend to prefer the male leadership as opposed to the female leadership. We find that most of the promotions given out in the police service are men. Last week we saw about four or five women out of the 60 officers that were promoted. So are we saying that we don’t have women in Barbados who are qualified for these roles? Do we not see ourselves in a position where a woman could possibly be the Commissioner of Police?” Beckles-Jordan told Barbados TODAY in an interview.
The trade unionist said it was troubling that women were still being overlooked for leadership positions within traditional male-dominated fields simply because of their gender.
She added that despite strides in recent decades towards gender equality in the workplace, women were yet to shatter the glass ceiling which bars them from leadership positions within some areas of the civil service.
“We still have roles in Barbados that women are not given the chance to be in leadership positions because there still is the stigma that males are more forceful in the leadership positions in these fields. I think there is a glass ceiling above the glass ceiling and I have to give women in Barbados kudos for breaking the first ceiling, Women have never stopped fighting to be part of the decision-making bodies of this country and we can applaud the political parties for having more female candidates. We can also applaud the prison service for taking on more female officers.”
Beckles-Jordan spoke of worrying trends such as sexual harassment of females by male supervisors, supersession and females who are overlooked “because it is claimed that they don’t fit the criteria because we have some men who believe that a female is always weak.
“If we look across Barbados we will see that the permanent secretary roles are filled by a vast majority of men. However when we come into certain aspects of the public sector we would also see that there is a vast majority of females holding the roles of chief secretariat and other administrative jobs which are considered female roles,” she stressed.
The NUPW official said the practice of categorizing some professions as gender specific was limiting employment opportunities for both women and men.
“Some men see jobs as teachers and nurses as jobs for females. If you look at the United States and Europe you see a lot of male nurses but in Barbados we do not. Males tend to think that there is male oriented jobs and female oriented jobs,” Beckles-Joran said.