A study conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps found that all-male units performed better on 69 percent of assigned tasks than mixed-sex units, the Washington Post is reporting. All-male units were also faster, especially when dealing with “crew-served” weapons such as mortars.

On an individual level, women taking part in the study were twice as likely to be injured. There was also “a notable difference” in shooting accuracy, with men scoring better than women “for every individual weapons system” even when the men had not yet received infantry training. And a physiological assessment found that the "top 25th percentile of women overlapped with the bottom 25th percentile of men” in terms of physical strength.

The nine-month study was conducted at two different military bases using 400 Marines (300 men and 100 women) and was specifically tasked with comparing how men and women perform in combat environments. The results are sure to be controversial, given the Pentagon’s recent emphasis on integrating women into combat roles.

“This is unprecedented research across the services,” Marine Col. Anne Weinberg told The Washington Post. “What we tried to get to is what is that individual’s contribution to the collective unit. We all fight as units… We’re more interested in how the Marine Corps fights as units and how that combat effectiveness is either advanced or degraded.”

However, the findings are not likely to dissuade proponents of female combat integration. Reserve Army colonel Ellen Haring, whom the Post describes as “a vocal advocate for fully integrating the military,” criticized the study’s focus, saying a woman’s ability to perform in combat should not be based on averages but rather on her own individual merits.

“The average woman can’t do what the average man does. I don’t think that’s a surprise to any of us,” Haring said, referring specifically to military training. “But they weren’t told to do this based on averages. It has to be based on individual capabilities.”

(Source: The Washington Post)