Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

Standards continues to be the ‘sticking issue’ when it comes to integrating women into combat

SUMMARY: There seems to be three views on women in combat; hardline opponents to any change; moderate opponents who are open to change provided existing requirements are maintained; and those that think the military system cannot fairly evaluate women and needs total reform. Everything hinges on physical standards, an issue that frequently cropped up during the forum ‘Women in Combat: Where We Stand.’ The Marine Corps recently opened up the Infantry Officer Course and the Army opened up Ranger School to test the physical standards, but no women who pass will be allowed to join the all-male units in either service. Army Sgt. 1st Class Meghan Molloy, who served in a Cultural Support Team in Afghanistan, said during the forum, ‘It’s really important that the standards are there, but it’s really important that we’re using the right standards, and not just something that’s based on research done 40 years ago.’ There is a culture war where changes to standards will be perceived as ‘lessening requirements for the sake of integrating women,’ while resisting changes will be seen as halting gender integration.

SOURCE: Dan Lamothe, May 1 2015, ‘Why physical standards still dog the fight about women in combat units,’ The Washington Post,  

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