Sunday, 18 August 2013

Being a Female P.I. in a Male-Dominant Industry: The Good; The Bad; & The Ugly


The obligatory disclaimer: This is not an editorial on girls vs. boys or about who makes a better investigator.  There are plenty of great male p.i.s out there and I've been fortunate enough to have learned a lot from the best of them,
That being said; however, women tend to be more analytical, empathetic, creative, and able to multi-task. We use language and reasoning better than men and are faster and more accurate at identifying emotions*.  Women are generally intuitive and have a "sixth-sense" about people and situations. Granted, men would likely fair better than women in a physical altercation; however, (unlike t.v.), ass-kicking is not one of our general duties.
Undercover assignments:
Women don't just think differently than men; we look different than them as well, (ideally).  The significance and benefit of this can't be over-stated. Physically, I don't fit into the stereotypical mould of what a p.i. looks like which is a great advantage, especially with covert assignments
Many p.i.s are retired cops - and they look like it.  In my experience, this can be a major hindrance - especially when working on covert assignments.  Women are intuitive, analytical, and are good at remaining calm and in control under stressful situations. These are all integral qualities of a good covert agent.  Plus, on a physical level, we don't automatically arise suspicion, (and we have virtually limitless options for costumes, props, and cover-stories).  I am an independent, contemporary, woman but; at the risk of being accused of setting the woman's movement back, I admit that I have capitalized on a little flirting in the line of duty.
Interviewing & witness statements

Of course, interviewing is different from undercover work for myriad reasons.  I have witnessed both men and women react differently toward a female interviewer than they do toward a male.  It has been my experience that this is particularly so when both the interviewee and the interviewer are male. Males may change details that they believe might make them appear less manly to another guy or just refuse to speak with him at all.  I know that being a female has helped me, (and my clients), immensely when interacting with male and female victims, interviewees, and witnesses. There is an entire science about why people are more comfortable with, and more likely to divulge information to, a female - even when incriminating themselves.
Case study: Personal-injury; Client: Plaintiff
Catastrophic injuries arising from a pedestrian motor vehicle accident, (to be precise, the client would be the Plaintiff's Attorney).
Defendant driver stated to police that she had not been drinking on the day of the mva. She then disappeared. After locating her and a lengthy conversation, she admitted that she had consumed alcohol throughout the, (sunny), day - including right up until a few minutes before driving.
Another defendant had provided an alibi as to his whereabouts. When I showed up on is doorstep, he invited me in for tea and admitted that he had lied in his initial statement.  I had produced I.D. and identified myself  as representing the other side yet he completely incriminated himself and tanked his case. 
Divorce, child-support, hidden earnings/ assets, and infidelity cases:
At risk of sounding bitter, I can personally relate to, (both male and female), clients in these types of cases.  My own, prolonged, experience included all of these things. FMEP was fully aware of the fact that the ex earned over $100,000 per year yet on the day they attached a judgment, (finally, after 6 years), his income suddenly, (and fraudulently), decreased to $50,000 per year - for the same job, company, title, duties, and hours.
The fact that I can relate so closely is actually of benefit to clients because, in addition to being able to empathize with them, I have the first-hand experience and information to draw upon in order to help them with their case.

Access Supervision:

Being a woman and a Mom has been a huge benefit in this highly sensitive and specialized area of child-protection. Children seem to be more comfortable - and comforted - with a woman supervisor. Custodial parents advise that they feel that a woman/ Mom understands their anxiety and that they are comforted in knowing that their child is with another Mom.  Non-custodial or supervised parents, (men and women), also seem to feel less anxiety, challenged, and alienated. Being a woman, (and a Mom), allows the ability to pick up on the smallest  and most subtle of non-verbal queues from both the child and the parent. 
I love being both a woman and a private investigator; however, it's not all cake and ice-cream - but I'll leave that for my next post

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