History of Women in the Patrol

By Michele Vaughan, Historian, Ohio State Highway Patrol

 

There was a time when women only could join the Ohio State Highway Patrol in support and clerical positions. From its creation in 1933 until 1976, the Patrol did not accept female applicants for sworn officer positions.

But since that time more than 30 years ago, women have held positions in almost every rank in the Division, thanks to legal changes, changes in Patrol policies and attitudes, and the perseverance of numerous women.

And it all started with one woman.

After federal civil rights laws were amended in the early 1970s and the Patrol worked to comply with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Conciliation Agreement, the Academy invited women – for the first time – to join its 100th Cadet Class.


Photo The Division lowered the height requirement for officers from 5’9” to 5’8” to allow more women to apply, and recruitment officials compiled a pool of interested females. In 1976, the Patrol contacted 43 of the nearly 100 women in the pool to see if they were interested in applying for a job. There were 23 who kept their appointments and only 15 passed written exams. Out of those, only two remained interested after passing physical and background checks.

Of the two women who made it through the physical and academic tests to get to the Academy, only one of them stuck it out and graduated with the 100th Class. That woman’s name was Dianne Harris.


Women who followed in Harris’ footsteps all demonstrate that they are capable of performing the role of a Trooper as well as their male colleagues. By 1981, the Patrol had 14 female Troopers, and by the early 1990s, women were moving up the ranks. Today women make up almost 10 percent of the Patrol’s sworn officer force and serve in a wide variety of positions including canine handlers and plainclothes investigators, as well as post commanders and other command assignments. In fact, Lisa Taylor who became the Patrol’s first female major in 2004, is a member of the Division’s senior staff and is commander of the Office of Finance and Logistic Services.

“I’m really impressed with what other females are doing in this organization and I really applaud them all,” Harris said of today’s female Troopers.

Thanks to Dianne Harris and others like her, women have become integral to the continued success of one of Ohio’s most prestigious and honored organizations – the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Now, the requirements to be a Trooper do not include a height requirement. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, an Ohio resident (although, that can be waived), have a high school diploma or G.E.D., have a valid Ohio driver’s license and be 21-34 years old.

For more information on how you can apply to become a Trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, please contact your local Post, or go to the Division’s website at http://www.dps.state.oh.us/OSHPRecruit/eRecruit.aspx.

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