I can assure you that as a female officer you will not gain any more respect from the cons than a male officer. A lady in my jail was potted the lads were all telling her "when we find out who did that to you well fucking have them" turns out after watching the CCTV these same lads were stood on the 3's landing watching the chap pot my colleague and laughing along to it. If you're having doubts, it isn't the job for you. Training does not set you up for working on an operational landing. You will gain your real experience on the landings when you have 10 or more blokes expecting you to shit wonders and piss miracles all demanding things all at once, when cleaning up shit and piss after a dirty protest, putting out fires with prisoners screaming in their cells because they've made a stupid mistake setting themselves alight, cleaning up self harm and reading the suicide notes. The list goes on. The prison service is as messed up as portrayed in the media, there are not enough staff on the wings, the wrong types of prisoners on our wings; prisoners who need to be in secured units will end up on your wing.
Having great interpersonal skills doesn't set you off onto a flying start either. I agree a lot of the time most problems are verbal altercations however a lot of people in our care suffer from mental illness to the point where interpersonal skills are blown right out of the window and if they are set on becoming violent towards you, they will do.
Ask any question you like, prison officers are here to answer you!