When Second Lt. Sage Santangelo recently attempted the prestigious Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, the 10 women who came before her had failed the test.
Santangelo also ended up failing the course, a defeat she attributes to inferior training that women marines receive compared to men rather than an inherent weakness in women.
The Infantry Officer Course is an arduous 13-week course that aims to push Marines to their physical and mental breaking point in an effort to train only the best as infantry officers. Of 14 women who attempted to pass the course at Quantico, all but one failed within the first day.
In a recent Washington Post column, Santangelo attributes these failures to a double standard women face during their entire time in the Marine Corps.
From the beginning of training in Officer Candidates Schools, women have few chances to compete against men. The schools are segregated based on sex and women are held to a lower set of standards, according to Santangelo.
Santangelo, in The Washington Post, notes:
In the Physical Fitness Test, for example, a male perfect score is achieved by an 18-minute three-mile run, 20 pull-ups and 100 sit-ups in two minutes. A female perfect score is a 21-minute three-mile run, a 70-second flexed-arm hang and 100 sit-ups in two minutes. There was a move to shift from arm hangs to pull-ups for women last year. Yet 55 per cent of female recruits were unable to meet the minimum of three, and the plan was put on hold.
This difference in passable criteria sets the tone that women can’t compete on a similar level as men, according to Santangelo.
Since it was opened to women in 2012, 14 females have attempted and failed the course at Quantico. Meanwhile, 13 women have passed the slightly less intense two-month enlisted infantry training course at Camp Geiger, North Carolina.
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