Posted on September 16, 2015 Issues: Military

(Washington, D.C.)—Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said earlier this week that the Navy will not ask for any exceptions to the Department of Defense policy that requires all military assignments to be open to women by Jan. 1, 2016 unless an exception is approved by the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In announcing his decision, Secretary Mabus said that the results of a Marine Corps study of 400 volunteers–300 men and 100 women–who engaged in a series of tactical tests were helpful in setting standards for physically demanding combat  jobs that had never had standards before, but are not a basis for excluding women who meet these standards.   According to a brief summary of the study released by the Marine Corps, all-male teams performed better on most of the tasks than mixed-gender teams.

The following is a statement by Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center:

“We applaud the Navy’s decision to seek no exceptions to the Department of Defense policy to open all military occupations and units to women, and we welcome the potential benefits of the Marine Corps’ study in establishing validated, gender-neutral standards for Marine Corps combat jobs. Beyond that, the study is not a basis for requesting any exceptions to the policy because to do so would improperly evaluate all women’s qualifications based on the performance of a few.  Instead, as the policy instructs and Secretary Mabus stated, the proper approach to integration of women is to establish validated, gender-neutral standards for all military jobs and allow both women and men to compete for them.  If we want to have the best military in the world—and we do—we should not exclude half the population from any military job simply because of gender.  If the best man for the job is a woman, she should get the job.”

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Contact: Alicia Gurrieri; agurrieri@nwlc.org or (202) 588-5180