On March 15th, the Yeshiva University Feminist Club invited policewoman Brittany Pastiglione to share her experiences and thoughts on choosing an occupation dominated, especially in the past, by men, and often perceived as one of the most masculine careers.
Pastiglione explained the path she took to get to this profession: though her father was slightly more worried about this choice, she said of both of her parents that “they were my biggest fans.” When it comes to the actual danger of the job, Pastiglione said she works in a relatively safe sector of New York, where there are few cases of severe crime and the most common disturbances fall under the label of what’s referred to as “disorderly people.”
However, she did have to use force in one instance—a circumstance demonstrating, among other things, the extent of the equality between men and women in this field. When an intoxicated homeless man, causing trouble in a restaurant, threatened to kill Pastiglione’s partner, Pastiglione and her male coworker, side by side, “took him to the ground,” as she phrased it, and cuffed the man.
As a woman, Pastiglione said she has never experienced inequality or sexism from anyone working with her. In addition, she works with women on a daily basis, and said that, today more than ever before, the upper ranks are filled with women. Since she began this career, she has seen the number of women entering this field grow at a faster rate than they ever have.
This job, though, is not totally devoid of discrimination. Pastiglione revealed that sometimes while working, if she is giving out instructions along with a male coworker, civilians will turn to the man before accepting the authority of her directions, and this frustrates her greatly. This is the sole area of her job where she receives unequal treatment, she said, with the physical exams and training necessary for the job being oblivious to gender. In fact, she did not pass her first physical exam to enter the police academy, but nonetheless persevered and passed on her second time around. Pastiglione is proud of the requirement that, by definition and by job description, she needs to be able to do (run, fight, lift) exactly what a man can do. She says that in the upcoming years she hopes up to move up in the ranks to sergeant, as most people in this field hope to do. Being a policeman or policewoman comes with pensions and many other perks, but at the end of the day, Pastiglione says that for her these are just side effects of the main goal. “I always wanted to help people, to try and make a difference.” That’s the real focus for this policewoman.