Women Accuse FBI Training Academy of Discrimination
A dozen women who washed out of the FBI Academy have filed a federal complaint alleging they were judged more harshly than male trainees. The complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes particular aim at the tactics training assessments, the New York Times reported. “Female trainees are singled out in group tactical exercises because they are perceived as being weak and prone to failure,” they wrote. “Male trainees are provided multiple avenues for success, in spite of their errors. Male trainees are often permitted to retake tactical exams when female trainees are denied the opportunity to do so.” The FBI declined to comment. While women make up nearly half of the FBI’s employees, they represent only one-fifth of agents.
Danielle Snider was sailing through her training to be an F.B.I. agent last year, passing her fitness, academic and firearms tests. Then came the last phase: training on tactics like entering a house and confronting an armed attacker.
Ms. Snider, an Air Force Academy graduate, stumbled. In one day, instructors at the F.B.I.’s sprawling facility in Quantico, Va., wrote her up four times. With less than two weeks to go before graduation, she was bounced from the course in January.
But in one instance, a man in training with her made a similar mistake and it was overlooked, she said. It was part of a pattern, she and other women who failed out of the academy said, in which instructors — almost all men — scrutinized them more closely because they were women and treated men differently when they erred.
“Everyone is making mistakes,” said Ms. Snider, 30, who found another job with the federal government as an investigator. “I felt it wasn’t the same playing field for women. I think it is fundamentally unfair.”
Ms. Snider is among a dozen women who accused the F.B.I. of gender discrimination at its training academy, detailing their allegations in a complaint last month to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. One of the women also claimed she suffered discrimination because of her race, and another because of a disability.
Ms. Snider, along with nine of the other women, washed out of the academy during the tactics training. Some continue to work for the F.B.I. but not as agents.
“Female trainees are singled out in group tactical exercises because they are perceived as being weak and prone to failure,” they wrote in the complaint. “Male trainees are provided multiple avenues for success, in spite of their errors. Male trainees are often permitted to retake tactical exams when female trainees are denied the opportunity to do so.”
The F.B.I. declined to comment on the complaint. In a statement, the bureau said it was “prioritizing advertising and recruiting aimed at women both nationally and through the 56 field offices.” The F.B.I. also said the percentage of applicants to be agents who were women had increased, from 22 percent in the fiscal year that ended in September 2017 to 26 percent the following year. It hopes to reach 33 percent over the next year.
For years, the F.B.I. has struggled to add more female agents. Women composed only a fifth of the bureau’s 13,500 agents as of October. About 44 percent of the F.B.I.’s 35,000 employees are women.