In a positive move towards gender equality, the Secretary of the United States Navy has made it clear that he will not request any exceptions to the recent Pentagon regulation that all United States military jobs be opened to women. The decision by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus comes over one month before his deadline to make such a request. The decision will affect jobs in the Navy as well as the Marines.
Mabus stated earlier this week that, “Nobody’s asking for an exemption in the Navy. And I’ve been pretty clear about this for a while - I’m not going to ask for an exemption for the Marines.”
Mabus recently reviewed a study published by the Marine Corps that suggested combat units with male and female members were slower, less efficient and resulted in more injuries than combat units with just male members. The study reported that, “In the all-volunteer study, the men consistently outperformed the women in speed and accuracy, while female Marines were injured at more than double the rate of their male counterparts.”
Mabus acknowledged the results of the study but pointed out that the study used averages in making its findings. He said that averages are not relevant to the issue at hand.
“At the end they came out - and I’ve read the study pretty carefully a couple of times - in a different place than I do because they talk about averages. And the average woman is slower. The average woman can’t carry as much. The average woman isn’t quite as quick on some jobs or some tasks. The other way to look at it is we’re not looking for average.”
Mabus pointed out that only qualified individuals, whether male or female, should and would be allowed to do a specific job. He stated that, “Our notion is set standards, make sure those standards have something to do with the job, and then, if you meet it, you meet it.”
He stressed that in the study, many women met those standards. “There were women that met this standard, and a lot of the things there that women fell a little short in can be remedied by two things: training and leadership.”
Mabus also emphasized that male-female troops and missions will be held to the high expectations required from members of the Navy and Marines. Opening previously restricted jobs to women “is not going to make them any less fighting effective. I think they will be a stronger force because a more diverse force is a stronger force.”