I hadn’t really thought about “gender profiling,” but this article is pretty interesting. My favorite bit was the argument that gender profiling shares the disadvantages of racial profiling:
Harris cites another instance of gender profiling. In the late 1990s, U.S. Customs, cracking down on drug smuggling, developed a set of search guidelines that in practice caused black women returning from the Caribbean to be stopped more frequently than any other group. After a series of complaints (the search rooms “had more in common with a gynecologist’s office than a customs office,” according to Harris) and a GAO report detailing the guidelines’ undesirable effects, customs agents abandoned them. As a result, they decreased their number of searches by 75 percent and nearly quadrupled their rate of busts. Instead of profiling, customs agents began relying on observation of nervous behavior, bulges in clothing, and drug-sniffing dogs.
A further problem with profiling, critics note, is that once the quarry knows the profile, chances are he will do his best to avoid it. Richard Reid, the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist who tried to detonate a bomb in his shoe in December 2001 on a flight from Paris to Miami, did so as a British subject, not a Middle Easterner on a U.S. student visa. In Israel, Palestinian terrorists have begun disguising themselves as non-Arabs, using Israeli military uniforms or the head-to-toe black garb of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men. Another good way to avoid fitting the profile is by being a woman: Terrorist groups in the Middle East have increasingly been using women as suicide bombers since the start of the latest Intifada three years ago, in large part to avoid detection by police and military patrolmen suspicious of Arab men.