Race, Gender, and Tokenism in Policing: An Empirical Elaboration
According to tokenism theory, “tokens” (those who comprise less than 15% of a group’s total) are expected to experience a variety of hardships in the workplace, such as feelings of heightened visibility, isolation, and limited opportunities for advancement. In the policing literature, most previous studies have defined tokenism narrowly in terms of gender. The current research extends prior research by examining tokenism as a function of gender and race, with an examination of racial/ethnic subgroups. Particular attention is paid to Latino officers as this study represents the first known study of tokenism and Latino police officers. Quantitative analyses reveal that, for the most part, token police officers do experience the effects of tokenism as predicted by tokenism theory. Although all minorities experienced some level of tokenism, Black males and Black females experienced greater levels of tokenism than Latino officers, suggesting that race is a stronger predictor of tokenism than gender.