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"'You're Going to Make a Hell of a Corrections Man Someday': Work Experiences of Female Wardens and Superintendents" (by Karen A. Altendorf): Review 3

Published onNov 16, 2023
"'You're Going to Make a Hell of a Corrections Man Someday': Work Experiences of Female Wardens and Superintendents" (by Karen A. Altendorf): Review 3

Vote: Do not publish

The author is correct in that women in leadership positions in criminal justice (and corrections specifically) are overlooked, and the study itself has real value regarding obtaining the experiences of female superintendents. While it was interesting to read the excerpts from the interviews, the article itself needs a significant amount of work, so it is not recommended for publication at this time. I do hope that the author continues to pursue this line of research as it has the potential to make a significant contribution to the field. I have provided specific feedback below:

  1. The literature included in this manuscript is quite dated, and there is no incorporation of research past the early 2000s. This is very problematic as there may be more recent research highlighting the role and experiences of women in leadership positions in criminal justice. There are a lot of parallels between law enforcement and corrections, and it would be beneficial to include research on the experiences of women in leadership in that field as well.

  2. There is no contextualization of this research regarding the percentage of women working in corrections, specifically in leadership positions. The author alludes to the fact that this number has grown, but no specific statistics or how these numbers have changed over time are provided.

  3. The writing, at times, is unclear. For example, in the literature review, there is a lot of reference to Zimmer (1986) with the assumption that the reader is familiar with this work, yet there is no clear description.

  4. The prior research's dated nature comes up occasionally, particularly when the author uses the term “prison guard.” This language is no longer used in corrections; instead, these positions are called “correctional officers.”

  5. There was no real theoretical foundation for this study. How did the analysis fit into the larger literature on women navigating leadership positions within masculine and male-dominated institutions?

  6. The author mentions obtaining a list from the 2001 Directory of Adult and Juvenile Correctional Departments. Is this research more than 20 years old? If this is the case, it is important to mention that for transparency because their perspectives and experiences may not be aligned with current female superintendents.

  7. The author describes how they gained access to study participants but not how many superintendents they ultimately reached out to. For this reason, it is hard to assess what their response rate was. What percentage of female superintendents were you able to interview?

  8. On page 9, the author writes that they “explored the common life experiences, turning points, and career paths of female prison wardens and superintendents.” The analysis was not organized along these lines. Doing so would have made for a more focused analysis section.

  9. Much of the analysis applied to women’s experiences within corrections broadly. More discussion on women’s experiences in leadership positions would have helped to connect the analysis to the study’s research question.

  10. The manuscript has many spelling and grammatical errors that take away from the piece's focus and must be fixed. In addition, the author relies very heavily on direct quotes. The author should try to better incorporate this research into their article in their own words.

I appreciated having the opportunity to review this manuscript and believe that the research is meaningful, but more work is needed before this is ready for publication.

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