US army halts gender neutral fitness test as women struggle

NZ Herald 13 March 2021
The US army is considering scrapping its new gender neutral fitness test because women have been failing in much larger numbers than men.

Research showed that the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), which is the same for male and female soldiers, was leading to lower results for women with a knock-on effect for promotions.

An early Pentagon study showed women were failing the ACFT at a rate of 65 per cent, compared with 10 per cent for men. Congress has halted implementation of the new test and the army has begun an independent review into whether it is fair. It has been suggested that the standard test could be evaluated differently for men and women.

The test includes six events – a maximum deadlift, a standing power throw, hand-release push-ups, a sprint, drag and carry, leg tuck, and a two-mile run. Those taking it must score at least 360 points out of a possible 600, and those who achieve higher scores are more likely to be promoted.

However, average scores for women so far are said to have been 100 points lower.

Congress has now declared that the test in its current form should not be a factor in deciding whether someone gets promoted. Expected changes include how core body strength is tested in the leg tuck. Instead of hanging from a bar and tucking legs to their chest, soldiers will instead be given the option of doing a two-minute plank exercise. Early research showed female soldiers’ scores improved with the plank option.

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