Female soldiers have long fought off perceptions that their bodies just aren't equipped to handle the rigors of training and warfare. But a decade's worth of research suggests that women are hardly as fragile as critics once thought.
A new study by military researchers found that many assumptions about female bodies are "astoundingly wrong." Women are just as good as men -- in some cases, perhaps even better -- at handling intense exercise and decompression sickness.
The findings, reported in the Journal of Women's Health, don't change the fact that women -- on the whole -- are smaller and less powerful than men. Still, they suggest "that human physiology is more consistent than would be suggested by the social embellishments and exaggerations" that come about when there isn't any actual research, said Col. Karl Friedl, commander of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and co-author of the report (.pdf).