Study on Women in Marines 'Flawed': Military Researchers

Weaknesses in design, overgeneralizations show 'clear intent to keep women out'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2015 1:58 PM CDT
Study on Women in Marines 'Flawed': Military Researchers
Pfc. Cristina Fuentes Montenegro, 25, left, shares a moment with Pfc. Julia Carroll, 18, during the graduation ceremony held on Camp Geiger, Jacksonville, NC, Nov. 21, 2013.   (AP Photo/The Daily News, John Althouse)

Some of the results from a Marine Corps study of an experimental gender-integrated unit were released last month, and they were less than flattering in many cases: Women service members were found to be injured more than men, all-male units were found to have more accurate shooting scores, and all-male units performed better than mixed units when it came to getting around obstacles and evacuating casualties, the Los Angeles Times reported. But a retired female Army colonel and an author of a book on military gender integration who obtained 380 pages of research from the study and offered them to the Washington Post say the study is "inherently flawed"; that the "limited information" released hid study design problems, a small volunteer pool, and overgeneralizations; and that better measures, such as physical screenings before entering the integrated unit, "would have all but eliminated the rates of injury for women," per their online essay posted Wednesday.

"The fact that the Marines felt confident" in accepting these results "indicates a clear intent to keep women out," Ellen Haring and Megan MacKenzie wrote. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a vocal advocate for women in the military, feels the same way, noting to NPR that any generalizations don't showcase the individual women who actually did excel. "When you start out with [a] mindset [of men thinking this is not a good idea], you're almost presupposing the outcome," he says. The study also mentions seven sexual assaults that were reported by service members in the integrated unit, the Post notes. But it's unclear whether the alleged assaults were committed against men or women, if they took place while the Marines were on duty or on leave, and whether they even took place while the troops were in the integrated unit—Marines were simply asked if they had been assaulted over the past six months, which could have included a period before the integrated unit was formed last October. (The Army's grueling Ranger School just saw its first female grads.)

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