[IPAC-List] differential sex norms on physical ability test

cpaullin at humrro.org cpaullin at humrro.org
Thu Apr 29 16:23:48 EDT 2010

Thanks for making this important distinction and for the real-life
information about what may or may not happen in a personnel selection

Are there nationally-published gender-based fitness norms that are the
basis for your examples?

Cheryl Paullin
Manager, Assessment Research & Analysis Program
Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO)
1313 Fifth Street SE
Mail Unit 9
Minneapolis, MN 55414

voice: 612-379-3834, ext 301
email: cpaullin at humrro.org

From: "Reed, Elizabeth" <EReed1 at Columbus.gov>
To: "ipac-list at ipacweb.org" <ipac-list at ipacweb.org>
Date: 04/29/2010 02:23 PM
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] differential sex norms on physical ability
Sent by: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org

When it comes to physical exams one needs to consider whether you are
testing for physical fitness or physical capability. If the job analysis
demonstrates a need for physical fitness, then measure of fitness for a
women is different than for a man, the same is true of age. As an example,
a "fit" woman may only need to do 30 push-ups to be fit for her age, while
a "fit" man of the same age may need to do 45 push-ups to meet the same
standard of fitness. When testing for physical fitness, the test should be
age and gender modified.

By contrast, a physical capability exam, measures whether a person is
capable of performing some physical aspect of the job. For example, the
job requires the ability to lift a 50 lb object, the need to perform that
function is the same regardless of gender. If one determines that this
requirement should be tested prior to entry into the job, then the
standard to pass should be the same for all. Age and gender modifications
would be inappropriate.

I believe the original question was posed as a physical fitness test,
rather than a physical ability/capability exam. If this is so, age and
gender modifications would be appropriate--assuming of course, that the
validation has been properly conducted and demonstrates that the level of
physical fitness is job related. For those who may think this would let
you off the hook in terms of validation, please think again. If you assume
that once you make age and gender modifications there will not be adverse
impact, you may find that you are wrong. Note, that I did not suggest
norming by gender or age, but rather a comparison to a standard level of
fitness for each. Therefore, it does not guarantee the groups women and
men who apply and take the exam will equally compare to standard. You may
still have an exam that exhibits adverse impact.

Liz Reed
Elizabeth A. Reed
Police and Fire Assessment Supervisor
Columbus Civil Service Commission
750 Piedmont Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43224
Office: (614) 645-6032 Fax: (614) 645-0866
Email: Ereed1 at columbus.gov

-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org]
On Behalf Of Winfred Arthur, Jr.
Sent: Thursday, April 29, 2010 12:11 PM
To: ipac-list at ipacweb.org
Subject: [IPAC-List] differential sex norms on physical ability test

i inadvertently deleted the original post but if my recollection of the
query is correct, it pertained to using different male and female norms
for a physical ability test, and the appropriateness of such? if so,
then would that not be subgroup norming, which i believe, is still
legally prohibited, no?

- winfred _______________________________________________________
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