As Time points out, the extensive number of TV characters like Olivia Benson give the impression that police departments are filled with female detectives and officers. However, this is far from the truth, and it was even more so the case in the early 20th century. Fighting against "a man's world," as former LAPD member Alice Stebbins Wells put it, women struggled to get a position as an officer, and those who did had very limited duties. Largely restricted to protecting other women and young girls from prostitution and pickpockets, female officers also faced constant harassment, as they surely still do today. Check out a few photographs of the United State's female police pioneers below.
Civil War Glass Negative Collection/Library of Congress
Detective Allan Pinkerton (sitting on the right) at Antietam during the Civil War. Standing behind Pinkerton holding the tent pole is believed to be Kate Warne, the first female detective in America, dressed as a man.
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress
Many people could not even imagine what a female police officer would look like so this Ohio suffragette demonstrated what a policewoman would look like making an arrest.
Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library
Three motorcycle officers with the LAPD are on duty in 1927. From left to right: Miss Hildur Fleming; Miss Myra Richardson; and Miss Beryl Wilson.
Head over to Time to read more.