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Women Unable to Meet U.S. Marines Physical Requirements

Updated on January 4, 2014

While this seems like common sense, that, women should have the same available career choices as men in the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. Marines is finding some choices make this unrealistic unless they lower physical requirements for women. Being equal is a difficult thing to achieve.

All this came to light in a few training situations. In Marine boot camp, there is a 3-pullup requirement and over 60% of women recruits cannot do them. The perfect score for woman is 8-pullups.For men, the perfect score is 20. Men must also meet the 3-pullup minimum. Another test is that women must be able to flex hang for at least 15 seconds, a perfect score is 70 seconds. Men are exempt this test.

In 2012, two women elected to go through the 13-week infantry officers course in the Marines, both failed. A year later, three elected, and all succeeded.

The physical requirements, if met, will women to enter into jobs that are in direct combat such as, infantry, armor, and artillery. Many of these jobs are closed to women because they cannot meet the physical requirements.

So, the U.S. Marines have decided to not require the minimum physical requirements on some tests for women in order to be fair and not lose new recruits. The 3-pullup minimum was created for both sexes as a way to see if the strength is present to carry a weapon or weapons, scale a wall, lifting, climbing a rope.

So, when a recruit is required to do upper-body strength tests to pass, they may now elect to do the 3-pullup or flex-arm hang for at least 15 seconds.

These types of tests first began in 1956 and in 1969, if a woman entered into the U.S. Marines, they only had to do a 120-yd run, vertical jump, knee pushups, situps and a 600-yard run.

Baby, you've come a long way!


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      4 years ago from California

      A friend who is 5'1" tall and 100 pounds tried vigorously to meet the requirements for fire fighting. She is very strong, and can meet almost all the tests, but carrying a #180 man or a full fire hose alluded her . She understood the danger this would be to colleagues. Its very sad, but I completely respect her for putting her colleagues first.

    • swordsbane profile image

      William Grant 

      4 years ago from Wisconsin

      "Men are exempt this test." WTF?

      This is not the way to achieve equality. Equality is not about making X number of women Marines, and if you fall short of that, you are automatically doing something wrong. You're looking for Marines. Not "men" Marines or "women" Marines, but Marines. What's wrong with having one PT test group for BOTH sexes, and why should we worry about what % of women vs men pass it?

      If some of the tests are unfair, they they are unfair for both women and men. If they are NOT unfair to men, then they aren't unfair to women. The only tests that would be "unfair" to women is if the test actually physically required a penis to pass it. They had the same "problem" when they began letting women train as firefighters. At first, women couldn't pass the physical requirements to do the job. They talked about lowering the requirements for women, but thankfully, cooler heads prevailed (mostly) These tests were designed to find out if you could do the job. If you couldn't pass the tests, you could not physically perform your duties. Eventually, women started passing the tests because they began preparing for the tests (much like men did) However, it was a physically demanding job and women were/are never going to be as numerous as men in that profession. It is not a blow to feminism or equality that this happens, and it shouldn't be viewed as such in the Marines.

      I think the whole "women in combat" or "women in the military" controversy is entirely too overblown. You've got a standardized screening process to go through that is designed to get you the recruits that have the potential to become the kinds of soldiers you desire. Periodically it is adjusted. This is normal. it should NOT be adjusted because too many women fail it. That is a useless criteria for the desired end product. End of story.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Having served in the U.S. Air Force and fire service, every member has to meet the minimum physical ability requirements regardless of gender. Each individual must be able to depend upon every other individual in the event of hazardous situations. If someone is shot/injured and must be carried or dragged to safety, another individual must be capable of doing so regardless of gender!

      I'm concerned that the powers-that-be will reduce training/physical requirements further and further while at the same time gutting the military. Eventually, we'll end up with a "hollow" force (looks good on paper, can't fight and win) like we had in the post-Carter era.

      At the same time, they are placing more and more emphasis on remote combat technologies (drones!). Great idea but it just won't work in every situation. Sooner or later, soldiers/Marines have to put their bodies on the ground to conduct up-close operations. (See G. Harry Stine's wonderful "Warbots" science fiction/military adventure series.)


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