For years, the Marine Corps has set fitness standards lower for women, a gesture of fairness based on the belief that women are inherently less strong and would be unable to meet the more rigorous requirements set for men.
But now that double standard is increasingly viewed by some as gender bias. There’s mounting evidence, both inside and outside the Marine Corps, that female service members can actually meet the same standards as men for the forcewide benchmarks assessed by the Corps’ Physical Fitness Test and the Combat Fitness Tests, known as the PFT and CFT.
“Whether intentional or not, the Marine Corps has been evolving toward a single fitness standard,” said Lt. Col. Misty Posey, who has researched female fitness issues for years, and who takes command of the Corps’ only female recruit training battalion this month.
Posey was a planner with the Marine Corps Force Innovation Office from 2014 to 2016 and led a research team that looked at gender-neutral options for the PFT and CFT, she said. The team’s focus was not whether the Corps should switch to a single physical standard, but rather whether such a standard is possible.
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Photo courtesy of Sgt. Dylan Bowyer