Setting the bar

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Science  31 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6247, pp. 468-471
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6247.468

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The U.S. military is on the eve of a historic integration: By order of the defense department, the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines must open previously male-only ground combat positions to women by January of 2016 or present a reason to keep certain roles closed. The deadline has prompted a slew of new research projects, including studies of physical standards, gender differences in injury rates, and service members' attitudes toward integration. It has also fueled rumors that the services will arbitrarily lower standards in order to meet political demands for equality. A look inside one such study—an exercise physiologist's effort to set new standards for Air Force combat soldiers—reveals how its researchers and participants are navigating the controversial issue.

  • * in Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas