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Marine Corps Female Pull-Up Requirement Scrapped

Female Marine Physical Fitness

First Posted: 01/20/12 01:58 PM ET Updated: 01/20/12 01:58 PM ET

The Marine Corps has shelved a proposed plan to add pull-up requirements to physical fitness tests for female corps members, the Marine Corps Times reports.

Currently, the Marines Corps' physical fitness program requires all marines pass a three-part fitness exam twice a year. The test includes abdominal crunches, a three-mile run, and dead-hang pull-ups for male marines or a "flexed-arm hang" for females.

But in June of last year, the Marine Corps Training and Education Command drafted a new version of the program that would have required female marines to perform pull-ups in order to achieve a perfect score on the test, though a passing score was still possible with the existing flexed-arm hang test, the Marine Corps Times reported.

That proposal has been scrapped, however, because the Marine Corps recognized that many female marines might not have been able to perform pull-ups initially, before other strength training exercises had been incorporated in fitness physical programs.

"Recognizing that many female Marines may not be able to do pull-ups initially, retaining the [flexed-arm hang] albeit in a devalued manner is a good introductory measure," Brian McGuire, a physical readiness program officer for the Corps, stated in a prepared paper obtained exclusively by the Marine Corps Times.

Jezebel's Erin Gloria Ryan noted that debate over whether physical fitness tests should vary between men and women is nothing new.

Controversy erupted last year in August when a group of women in Chicago filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the city's Physical Abilities Test for firefighters, which differs from the more widely used Candidate Physical Ability Test, discriminates against women, the Chicago Tribune reported.

At least one federal judge has ruled fitness tests can discriminate against women. In 2011, U.S. District Judge Janet Hall ruled that Connecticut's Department of Corrections discriminated against 100 women who applied to be prison guards by requiring them to meet certain times for a 1.5 mile run, CBS News reported.

Jezebel's Erin Gloria Ryan laid out some pros and cons for requiring women to meet the same physical standards for men working in the same occupation:

If my building were on fire and I were passed out under a collapsed beam, I don't care if the person who rescues me is a man or a woman; just get me the fuck out of there. But on the other hand, is it possible that there are traits that put women at an advantage that aren't measured by existing Physical Fitness Tests? Sure, there's no overcoming biology, but sometimes, biology (or socialization) works out to women's advantage. And that can benefit teams as a whole.

Ryan notes that the Marine's physical fitness test fails to consider a variety of skills that reports have suggested give female marines an advantage out in the field.

"We don't need higher standards for female firefighters, Marines, or law enforcement officers," Ryan wrote. "But these jobs would be well-served to measure physical attributes at which women excel in order to better understand how women contribute to the team as a whole. And that's an idea worth saluting."

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Filed by Jocelyn Richard  |