A passionate account of a former Marine Corps officer’s fight for equality and justice in a historically sexist system.
When Lt. Col. Germano was hand-selected to take command of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island, a group that trains only female recruits, she was well-aware of the challenges ahead. The Marine Corps is the only service that still segregates men and women during basic training, and the biased strategy is a breeding ground of issues. Implemented after an outdated, inaccurate study that showed mixed-gender units performed worse than single-sex units, the training program holds women to lower standards and maintains the damaging assumption that women are inherently mean and emotional. This strategy results in poorer performances in female recruits as well as dangerous and destructive behavioral issues. When Germano took command of 4th Battalion for what was supposed to be the swan song of her 20-year career, she was determined to change things for the better and prove women could be just as effective as men. After a year in charge, Germano’s recruits had markedly improved performance and fewer behavioral issues and injuries, and the overall quality of life at the training camp improved. Despite these achievements, the author’s high expectations and no-nonsense command style shook up the status quo and the many Marines and leaders who wanted to protect it, and she was ultimately fired. Using her firsthand experience and anecdotal evidence from her year in command, Germano concludes that it was sexism, prejudice, and an overt opposition to women’s success that ended her career. At times, the author is repetitive, and her prose can feel clumsy and awkward. Still, she provides a unique, powerful story of sexism and gender bias that will resonate with women across industries and experiences.
A no-holds-barred condemnation of discriminatory training policies within the Marines and of systemic sexism facing women everywhere.