Women in PI Work: Part III

solution in maze

Challenges of a Woman Private Investigator

The field of private investigation has traditionally been known to be a “man’s world”. The focus is most definetley on  men. Think about it honestly. If we were to ask what image comes to mind when you hear the word ‘detective’ or ‘investigator’, you would probably say that you imagine a tall handsome man. Possibly with a pipe in his mouth, in other words a Sherlock Holmes. In case you are an Agatha Christie fan, and can’t get enough of the Belgian detective with a foreign accent, you would probably say Hercule Poirot.

Would you remotely think of Nancy Drew or even Miss Marple for that matter? And that’s just fiction! What we are trying to get at is that the field of private investigation has always been known to be a “boy’s club” and that brings us to the many challenges that women face in the field of private investigation.

Thanks to the fact that women are moving towards being on par with men in every field today, the number of women in the field of private investigation has also seen a spurt. A lot of women over the past couple of decades have chosen to get into this field and the challenges they face are no different than they would in any other profession.

Women can do everything. Right from being homemakers to flying space shuttles, women have literally done it all, and yet when it comes to the space of private investigation women have traditionally stayed away. Even when we stand in the 21st century, there is still a lot of prejudice against a woman who chooses to be in the field of private investigation. And this is despite the fact that she may have superior training as well as better skills and methods as compared to her male counterparts.

Women Private Investigators on the Rise

Having said that, this perception is changing, albeit slowly. A lot of women in the recent past have chosen to enter this field not just based on their so-called intuitive powers, but because they have had a career in the armed forces or the police or have been in a police forensics department. These ladies have been inspired to enter the world of private investigation. Unlike what they show you in movies, it’s anything but a glamorous job and there are substantial risks to security, health and emotional stability. And yet there are women in the field of private investigation for whom the last word is integrity.

Despite the many achievements of female private investigators, this is a field that continues to be dominated by men. However, in recent years, there has been a paradigm shift. Women from varied backgrounds are choosing to take up private investigation as a profession. With this welcome change, we can only hope that the future will not be as dismal as the past. History is witness to the fact that a lot of good work done by many unrecognised female detectives has been lost, simply because nobody bothered to take their work seriously.

Everyday Challenges for a Female Private Investigator

There is always an attempt to find the right work-life balance, especially if a woman has a family and children. There are the long hours and having to explain to young children in the best way possible the need for a disguise or an undercover operation (without giving too much away).

Private investigation is not a regular job, so to say, and the everyday pressures while working on a complex case are far more demanding than many professions. Women in the field of private investigation therefore would not end up as a soccer mom, but she would have her achievements to speak for herself when her kids do grow up to understand her profession.

The other challenge that a woman may face as a private investigator, is her emotional connection with a case. The work of a detective has a lot to do with human psychology, and try as they may it’s difficult to keep it strictly professional at times. At times, without being aware of it, a woman may get so involved in her case that she becomes extremely sympathetic with the victim. This can have a detrimental impact not just on her career but also on her psychological health, where it may so happen that she cannot move on from one particular case.

A Woman in a Man’s World

Perhaps the biggest challenge a female investigator faces still in the 21st century is prejudice at her workplace. Several woman detectives have gone on record to say that though their  male colleagues have tried their best to keep it subtle, their off-handed remarks and attitude have always suggested that a woman private investigator is not “as good” as a man just because she is a woman! These ladies who have done exceedingly well for themselves as private investigators, and admit that one of the toughest challenges for them was to prove their mettle in the “world of men.” The good news however is that times are changing.

With more and more women being encouraged to take up private investigation as their field of work, we can only hope that this prejudice against women working in this field will soon be a thing of the past.

Indonesia Private Investigation Agency (IPIA) and our sister agency Bali Eye Private Investigation Agency (BEPIA) are fully registered agencies offering investigation services to the private and business sectors throughout Indonesia and South East Asia.


About the Author

IPIA's Director of Investigations is an Indonesian national with a Diploma in PI work (with distinction) from the UK and an Australian Government accredited Certificate in Investigative Services. She has worked on over 400 cases for private and business clients.