Lieutenant Colonel Kate Germano led female marine recruits to succeed in a system that expected little from women and kept them out of infantry roles. In Fight Like a Girl, she recounts bringing up performance scores and morale at the Parris Island training facility, and the outrageous lack of support from she received from the Marine Corps, which fired her a year into the job.
Germano, who shows herself to be a great communicator committed to integrity and equality, faced a stunted career after challenging the status quo. Throughout her book, she argues compellingly that there’s no excuse for gender bias in the military or elsewhere and that the time for practices reinforcing such prejudices is up.
Germano details challenges familiar to many successful women, from seeing her progress mocked and being told to smile more to witnessing how difficult it is for women to stick together in a male-dominated field. Her reflections are conversational and whip-smart, and her research into effective leadership is evident.
In discussing both triumphs and mistakes made throughout her career, her goal is improvement. And it’s telling that despite her twenty years of service, innumerable institutional improvements, and bevy of other successes, she still feels the need to preface her successes with “I’m not bragging, but …”
The book skips back and forth in Germano’s career. She was only in her Parris Island position for a year, though the improvements she implemented there might make it seem longer. Two chapters written by her husband might better serve as appendices.
An expose of systemic sexism, thoughtful managerial advice, and a memoir of a career, Fight Like a Girl is an important insider’s look at the Marine Corps and its last throes of denying women chances at combat positions.
Meredith Grahl Counts
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