By Sarah Boesveld
The RCMP wants you, dear student, especially if you’re a woman.
Recruitment officers in Ontario are looking for female college and university students to help boost the number of women working for the RCMP. Currently, only 17 per cent of 22,000 RCMP officers are women.
The first RCMP recruitment seminar geared specifically towards women was held at the Ontario Science Centre.
The evening offered an opportunity for applicants to meet 25 female RCMP officers and ask them specific questions about life in the red uniform.
“It’s important to be able to hear from female RCMPs that they’re able to do (the job),” said Corporal John Nuvoloni, the RCMP’s head recruiter for the Ontario unit.
He said that many female applicants have concerns about having a family and working for the RCMP.
Sergeant Michele Paradis, who boasts a 20-year career with the RCMP, said the organization works very hard to accommodate time for family. In 2001, women were granted part-time hours for family related issues.
“They’ll definitely endeavour to meet those needs,” she said, adding that the RCMP is also flexible in assigning postings.
“We have the ability to go anywhere in Canada and do any job within the organization,” she said, adding that since the RCMP is a federal organization, there is plenty of job security.
“This is (also) an opportunity to give back to the community,” she said.
The RCMP recruiters are planning a Ryerson visit on October 5th. This seminar will be open to the general public.
The recruiters might find the Ryerson female student population, however, to be a tough sell.
Though not a stranger to life in law enforcement, first year Arts & Contemporary studies student Deena Carlsen doesn’t feel the RCMP would be right for her.
“My dad’s a cop; I know what you have to do (in that job). It’s dange rous, and there are really bad working hours,” she said.
Demanding physical requirements and coming face to face with criminals are a few aspects of the job that may appear daunting.
The first female RCMP death occurred this past July in Saskatchewan. Constable Robin Cameron was shot to death by the suspect she and her colleagues were chasing. She left behind a young daughter.
Nuvoloni said tragedies do happen, but he points out that there are many other dangerous jobs in which injuries and deaths are under-reported.
“Policing in general, we’re very well protected, very well trained.
“We don’t send people out who aren’t appropriately trained,” he said.
But third-year interior design student Sarah Tremblay said she wouldn’t consider joining either.
“I just never had an interest, but I think that might be because of my gender,” she said.
Paradis said that women need not be afraid of joining the RCMP because of their sex.
“Women in the RCMP don’t get treated any different from men,” she said, noting that the RCMP is hiring from a cross-section of Canadian communities.
Though some female students cast doubt over whether the RCMP is for them, others say they would consider the RCMP as a career choice.
“I would (join the RCMP), just for the honour of it,” said first-year Social Work student Sarah Bruno, adding that she had looked into joining the police force before settling on her current studies.
Women were first allowed to join the RCMP in 1974. They have been climbing rank since then, and the first woman Deputy Commissioner named in 2002.