Pressure on Marines to change standards so that women can qualify for infantry?
. . . Last fall, the first two female volunteers failed to complete the course. One, a distance runner, was dropped on the first day, known as the Combat Endurance Test. The second, a soccer player, endured for over a week before instructors pulled her out because of a stress fracture in her foot. Both are now training for non-infantry jobs.
In Quantico, concerns run deep among some staff members that pressure to accommodate women will lead to a softening of the Marine Corps’ tough standards. Col. Todd S. Desgrosseilliers, commander of the Basic School, which includes the Infantry Officer School and the Basic Officer Course, said that would not happen.
“They are gender-neutral now,” he said of the standards. “They aren’t hard to be hard. These are the things they need to be able to do to be infantry officers.”
The 86-day Infantry Officer Course, which was started in 1977 by Vietnam combat veterans, is viewed with special reverence within the corps, the most infantry-centric of the armed services. Though its students tend to be top performers in basic officer training, more than one in five are dropped during the infantry course. Some are allowed to try again, but most find other jobs in the corps. . . .UPDATE: A reader points out to me that the strength requirements for men and women in the Marines are already quite different. The information for men is available here and for women here.
On the flexed-arm hang for women, the criteria is met as long as there is some bend in their elbows. "Marines are authorized to drop down below the bar, however, some degree of elbow flexion must be maintained with both arms. Once a Marine's arms are fully extended or the Marine drops off the bar, the clock will stop."
Compare the requirement for men: "The intent is to execute a vertical 'dead hang' pull-up. A certain amount of inherent body movement will occur as the pull-up is executed. However, the intent is to avoid a pendulum-like motion that enhances the ability to execute the pull-up. Whipping, kicking, kipping of the body or legs, or any leg movement used to assist in the vertical progression of the pull-up is not authorized. If observed, the repetition will not count for score."
There was a time when I was in my teens and twenties that I was able to do 20 pull-ups. Now I can do five (I suppose that I could do more if I actually worked at it regularly). So right now at age 54, I can score a 25 for men, but I just tried it and I was able to hang for 90 seconds with bent elbows so I had no trouble scoring a 100 on the test for women.
Women can also take about 17 percent longer to run 3 miles. Only sit ups have the same requirements for both men and women.