Author: Bibby, Claire1
Published in National Security Journal, 05 April 2021
For ten men, communication with people of a different gender is enabled or encouraged through understanding cultural and gender norms. One man described this as “Cultural (including religious) understanding and the norms of gender interaction of the culture of the person” and another said it is having “Respect, knowledge of others culture and history including gender norms.”
Two men said the enabler is having access to people of a different gender, for example “Diversity of gender through the ranks of police – access to different genders.” Two men said that there is no relationship between gender and communication with one saying “Nothing. I don’t change how I communicate based on gender” and another saying “Gender was irrelevant; communication is communication.”
For women, what best enables communication with people of a different gender is being respectful, open, and culturally aware, actively listening and trying to learn the language. Two women felt their rank or their role in police is important in communication, with one woman saying her rank and role enables communication. It is unknown what her rank and role is. (A male respondent responded similarly saying “Having the same interests and roles in police” enables communication). The other female felt that men are not supportive of her role in police, explaining there is nothing that she is aware of that would break down the barriers of communication and adding “Men hate women being in the role I am in.”
These findings suggest that police would benefit from a communication strategy that enables them to break through cultural barriers and organisational barriers, such as rank and roles, to access and communicate with people of a different gender.
Deterrents to communicating with different gender
This part of the survey informs of barriers to communication with people of a different gender. Survey participants were asked “Thinking about your international policing experience, what is most likely to hinder or deter you from communicating with people of a different gender to you.” Participants could self-select from any of the answers provided and there was an opportunity to identify any other reasons and to make a comment. The choices for selection were: Language barrier; Being accused of sexual misconduct or misconduct generally; Breaching a cultural practice or causing offence;