Air Force testing gender-neutral standards in San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – By 2016, all branches of the military must integrate women into all units, including combat.
For the Air Force, currently more than 99 percent of positions are open to women. That means they need to open the last six jobs to women including: Special Tactics, Combat Control, Special Operations Weather, Combat Rescue, Pararescue and Tactical Air Control.
In order to open those fields, the Air Force must look at the standards for qualifying for those fields and create a gender-neutral standard.
At Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Dr. Neal Baumgartner is doing just that.
He’s leading a three-part study to develop the new requirements. The requirements will be science-based standards developed from the job requirements.
The study began by looking at the current physical requirements and asking, what is actually needed to be successful at these jobs. It took 19-months of research to determine out of 100 tests which should be used to determine occupational relevance.
Now, the Air Force is testing volunteers on 39 tests to see if those tests show success on the job. Those tests include carrying a weight down a pipe, transporting a dummy and climbing a rock wall, to name a few. Eventually their will be about 10 tests.
“It’s independent of body size, can that human being perform that physical task,” Dr. Baumgartner said. “If we find out that pull-ups is a good test and 12 repetitions is the number, then all men, all women will have to do that to maintain their operational standards.”
We weren’t allowed to identify the airmen involved because the test is ongoing. The airmen we did speak with say they were honored to be a part of the historic study.
“It’s challenging but in the best of ways. It really pushes you to see where you’re at,” a female airman said. “Women who are able to do[the tests], depending on what the standards are set just have to be unbelievable strong.”
A male airman agreed saying the tests were difficult but rewarding.
“There’s boundaries that anybody can break though. and I don’t think it should be set or based on gender so the fact that it’s gender neutral should be a greater experience for the Air Force overall.”
The study will finish by cross validating a prototype test. Dr. Baumgartner will turn in his results to the Air Force at the end of July.
The Air Force began placing women in combat aircraft in 1993. These six positions will open 4,350 jobs across the total force of 600,000 airmen.
— Reported by Bailey McGowan, KENS5 San Antonio —