The Border Patrol is hiring, and women are especially encouraged to apply, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

After previous recruitment attempts had limited success, one of the largest law-enforcement agencies in the country is stepping up its efforts to increase the share of women who work as agents in the Southwest. One of the reasons for the special recruitment is the number of female border crossers, which jumped to nearly 121,000 last fiscal year — a 173 percent increase from 2011.

To increase its pool of female applicants, Customs and Border Protection sought for the first time a Title 5 waiver from the Office of Personnel Management to restrict the 10-day announcement to women only. There’s no specific number of positions allotted to women, but the agency is seeking to hire 1,600 agents through this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The waiver does not mean jobs can be offered only to women, but it allows the agency to specifically recruit them.

Of nearly 21,000 Border Patrol agents, only 5 percent are women, a share that has remained stagnant during the last several years.

"Not every woman is going to want to be out there in the brush, away from her backup," says Leslie Lawson, patrol agent in charge of the Nogales, Ariz., station. "But there are women like me out there that’s this is all we know and love. We need to find those women and show them what a great job it is."

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