- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2006

More than 20 federal agencies seeking female recruits gathered for the Women in Federal Law Enforcement’s (WIFLE) public career day at the Capital Hilton yesterday.

In 2002, women accounted for only 14.8 percent of federal law agents, said Margie Moore, director of WIFLE and a retired agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The numbers are so low, she said, because a job in federal law enforcement is still viewed as nontraditional for women.

Law enforcement has always emphasized physical strength, Ms. Moore said, but after September 11, communication and analytical skills are now being emphasized.

“People don’t always look at law enforcement as a place for women,” said Rusty Payne, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. But many women do not realize the opportunities available to them in law enforcement, he said.

More than 50 women came seeking information about careers at WIFLE’s seventh annual leadership training event.

Carlann McKenna found the career fair through Google and hoped to find a job in law enforcement. She likes to travel, “but so many of my friends — they go to work, they come back home, and they have ‘their’ time. They have their weekends.” Ms. McKenna would have to give up personal time if she took a job with a federal agency.

The spontaneous nature of the job can make it difficult for women who want families, said Ms. Moore. “If agencies had more family-friendly policies, they could have a job and a career and manage a family,” she said.

Ms. Moore said federal law enforcement is “a job that’s not only interesting,” but also offers “good pay and good benefits.” She said many women are looking for jobs in “real terms of economic stability,” and federal law enforcement offers health insurance and job security.

She quoted her grandfather’s advice: “If you don’t want to get married, go to Uncle [Sam]. He’ll take care of you.” After only five years serving as a federal agent, a woman could be making $100,000 a year, she said.

Kim Loveless, a DEA agent who is married to a fellow DEA agent, said that she often finds herself talking shop with her husband over dinner.

The DEA is one of the few agencies of the Department of Justice with women filling the top two positions of leadership, with both Administrator Karen Tandy and Deputy Administrator Michele Leonhart appointed by President Bush.

“The best advice is to call the agency you’re interested in,” said Nancy Lane, DEA agent and WIFLE career-day coordinator. “It may not be a paid internship. Even if you don’t get paid, you can get your foot in the door.”

“There is still some resistance to women in law enforcement,” Ms. Moore said.

“As the numbers increase, you will see a lot of that diminish. [The career day] is designed primarily for agencies to do the outreach for women,” she said. “It’s primarily recruiting a severely underrepresented group.”

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