By Anneliese Hanes
Lewis Center, Ohio
A mother walks into the Veterans Affairs office for her disability check-up. She walks to the front desk with her husband to sign in, and immediately the woman stationed there turns to her husband as the veteran. Somewhere else, a woman is looked at with disdain for parking in a veteran’s parking space, despite her 10 years of service. This is no fault of anyone. Despite the growing amount of women working in combat roles in the military, sometimes they are still looked upon as incapable of matching the militaristic standards.
“I think women have to work a little harder to show they are capable to do some of the tactical things men do, like firing weapons or leading soldiers,” Major Sarah Hanes said. “Men are seen as more assertive so women have to show that they can be too when they need to.”
One of the reasons women may have a hard time making their way in the military is the simple fact that women are not as physically inclined as men. According to livescience.org, men have an average of 26 pounds more muscle mass. It isn’t a matter of inequality; it’s a matter of biology. There are mixed feelings about whether that biological difference should be taken into account when applying the tests.
“Just as everyone in the military needs to achieve a particular score on the ASVAB test to qualify for specific jobs, there should be standards, both physical and mental, for anyone wanting to work in specific units,” Teri Shoemaker said.
As a mother of a woman in the military, she said if the standards are not met, by male or female, then the job should not be taken by that person.
Others say the difference should be taken into account.
“Physically, our bodies are different so I think it should be scaled to what is reasonable,” Major Hanes said. “A 125 pound female can not perform the same as a 180 pound male.”
Aside from the task of getting into the military, the main question must be whether women can perform the same jobs as men in the military, and at the same level.
As long as the women can continue to perform their jobs, then they have shown they are physically capable, Major Hanes said.
The top five positions taken by women in the military are health based, such as physicians, nurses or biomedical scientists. There is no reason women would not be able to perform these jobs well, and it seems that they have. According to cfr.org, today, 16% of enlisted forces are women, and 18% of the officer corps are as well.
There are varying topics to take into account when talking about how different genders should be treated in the military. There are physical standards, mental standards and job performance that need to be on par, but the problem is whether ‘par’ should be different for male or female.