WA POLICE are celebrating 100 years since women first joined the ranks.
In 1917, probationary constables Helen Dugdale and Laura Chipper were tasked with the moral welfare of women and children.
It is thanks to trailblazers like them that Inspector Tara Doyle runs operations in the South East Metropolitan District today.
“The number of women 20 years ago when I started was 5 per cent, now it’s mid 20s (22 per cent),” she said.
Insp Doyle joined the force at 25.
“I was considered quite older, most of the other women were 19, 20,” she said.
She had an economics degree and a desk job but found the nine-to-five life not for her.
“Growing up in Armadale I’d seen the social problems, the families that struggled,” she said.
“I wanted to make a contribution to change and that was not going to happen where I worked.”
She said the police culture took a bit of getting used to.
“Men and women are quite different,” she said.
“As well as all that shift work, you’re on the front line and I probably wasn’t prepared for what I was going to see.”
She said young women join the force looking for development opportunities and ask for them more than men.
The opportunities have grown as more women enter the force she said.
“Women do all the jobs men do now,” she said.
Insp Doyle said she was “pretty career-oriented” upon joining.
“I wanted to be a detective, I became a detective,” she said.
“As you go up to be part of the leadership team you can make a difference.”
After a stint at Cannington she took time off to give birth to two children, a boy and a girl now aged 7 and 11.
“It’s not dissimilar to any working mum,” she said.
“Not being on shift and having a family support network, partner and day care helps.”
The drive home helps process the confronting elements of her job.
“I drive and prepare for job number two, I’ve got no time for dwelling on it,” she said.
Insp Doyle said the police force was changing and more inclusive for women and other minorities.
“We have Aboriginal police officers, Muslim officers, men at the moment, but it’s slowly changing,” she said.
She said women helped strengthen the relationship between police and local communities.
“I do think women help with a different approach, different life experiences and that is important,” she said.