A New View of Measuring Up

Photo by Hayrullah Gozcu on Unsplash

“Measure up” is a phrase we use often to imply something cannot happen, as when a person does not measure up.

Women have long measured up in tackling occupations and careers often said to be male-only. Sometimes, though, the measuring up becomes a more literal challenge — and one that flips the negative to a positive.

The military is showing us that positive.

No one size fits all

As of this month, women in the Air Force are receiving protective vests designed for them. Unlike the old armor, crafted to fit the average male body (stay tuned on that point), the new variant is lighter, has a curved chest plate, a shorter torso size, and an adjustable back corset that tightens to fit the individual. This helps the new armor avoid the old version’s problem of being “one size fits all,” which clearly did not fit all.

The new protective vest also eliminates the outright physical pain caused by wearing the old version.

Developing the new armor is one more step taken by the U.S. military in expanding uniforms and materials to better serve not only females on the force but also males. All are treated equally as individuals, to maximize their contributions.

The fullest capacity

By pursuing new approaches, the military enables male and female service members to measure up to their fullest capacity. Which, of course, is what we all want and need from those who protect us.

And it’s a wonderful foundation for the rest of society.

These improvements for all service personnel illustrate what many in the civilian, business, government, and humanitarian sectors know: that diversity and inclusion elevate ideas, expand agility, ignite creativity, and enhance the outcome for all of us.

As opposed to making service members “tough it out” with the old ways, the services have used the influx of females to improve overall and move forward.

With Women’s History Month in March, the benefits of all of us contributing, and the amazing accomplishments that inspire us, are clear.

It’s a truth we see through the military and civilian life. As we move closer to The Women’s Campaign Fund goal of #5050x2028 — roughly half women and half men in elected offices nationwide — we increase not only the number of qualified, eager, and energized persons participating but also expand the ideas and proficiency available for, as well as the success of, what needs to be accomplished.

Fitting the system to the individual

Remember when we said, “stay tuned”? Here’s the thing.

While recent airplane cockpit modifications notably go a long way to help women, they also expand the field for male pilots who do not fit the traditional seats or designs. Thus, the move to ergonomic aircraft pilot seats helped measure all pilots much better.

In this sense, everything old is new again.

Back in 1926, when the Army was designing its first-ever cockpit, engineers had measured the physical dimensions of hundreds of pilots and used these data to standardize the cockpit dimensions. For the next three decades, the size and shape of the seat, the distance to the pedals and stick, the height of the windshield, and the shape of the flight helmets were all built to conform to the average dimensions of a 1926 pilot, the Air Force says.

In 1950, researchers at Wright Air Force Base in Ohio measured more than 4,000 pilots on 140 dimensions. Out of 4,063 pilots, not a single airman fit within the average range on all 10 dimensions. Why? There is no such thing as an average pilot. If you’ve designed a cockpit to fit the average pilot, you’ve actually designed it to fit no one.

By discarding the average as its reference standard, the Air Force changed its design philosophy to focus on individual fit. In other words, rather than fitting the individual to the system, the military began fitting the system to the individual.

To the individual. Exactly. To let us all measure up by the true measurement we seek: one that fits what each of us has to contribute.

©2021 Women’s Campaign Fund


Tags: Women’s Campaign Fund




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