Institute of Expert Witnesses

Providing specialist advice and support in accident cases

The Institute of Expert Witnesses offers professional impartial and independent advice and provides qualified expert opinions to support the legal process of resolving cases of accidents and injury.


Age and Gender Paradox in Physical Army Training


The issue of age and gender, and fitness policy in the army training is that under existing legalisation it was and believe still is perfectly acceptable to account for physiological effects of ageing in physical training and the testing of individuals. However, is it not acceptable to account for the difference between gender; therein lies a paradox.

In military terms we see this clearly in operations where male and females fight side by side in certain theatres and it is becoming more the norm and encouraged (just watch “Our Girl” on TV for tips). It is a fair comment to say that while the underlying mechanisms are different, the effects of age and gender on performance are the same.

It was acknowledged that if the purpose of army training and testing as to the suitability of a recruit for a specific job then the course standards must be based on the requirements of that job and should logically be gender free. But what happens when for example the job requires an individual to physically lift heavy tank tracks in the field? However, if the test is to measure individual/personal fitness then it is entirely appropriate to correct for age and gender; another paradox.

The main advantage of this is the reducing of risk of injury and over training in general. Correcting for age and gender improves motivation by creating a level playing field, lessens risk of weaker members being exposed to demanding army training and testing, and is favoured by medical professionals.

Therefore, although the Army endeavours to operate in a gender free environment since around 1998 a culture of common sense training has evolved by PTI’s in order to cope with the legislation, including streaming into ability groups for arduous training. 

Initial fitness testing is the opportunity to identify weakness, begin streaming and initiate the process of a progressive physical build up programme to suit all standards. At the same time taking into consideration the females who were by stature less physically able and ensuring they had a structured progressive training programme in line with the more physically able recruits. This would then be aligned with any basic army training gender fair approach.

The paradox is set to remain leading to an apparently self-contradictory or logically unacceptable conclusion.

Fisherman’s paradox – I want to fish; how many lines do I really need and what fish do I really want to eat; I don’t want mercury poisoning…!


If you have any questions regarding army training or if you are involved in a case or injury, please do not hesitate to contact our Expert Witnesses on 0117 986 2194 or at enquiries@iew.org.uk.




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