Women’s Central Role in Transforming the French Police

March 7, 2024

Since women were first permitted to join France's National Gendarmerie in the mid-1970's, women have come to represent 29.4% of police officers.

For many years, policing in France stressed tasks that were perceived as “manly,” where the use of force in the fight against crime was necessary. These perceptions have since changed, where prevention or administrative assistance is no longer stigmatized as “social work.” Women now have access to a wide range of law enforcement careers as well as every position in the chain of command.

The French National Police is part of the French civil service, which is organised into several categories accessible after graduation through an exam process, typically requiring a university degree. Police officers are hired on the same basis as other civil service opportunities, and depending on their academic level, candidates can take various police-specific entrance exams as follows:

  • Executive branch (category A+): requires a master’s degree
  • Commanding officer branch (category A): requires a bachelor’s degree
  • Field officer branch (category B): requires a high school diploma
  • Auxiliary officer branch (category C): no diploma required

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