Lt. Col. Kate Germano might not look the part of a stereotypical Marine.
She has light eyes, soft features and a personality that complements her bright smile. But when it comes to being a commanding officer, the third-generation military veteran sure fit the bill of what’s portrayed in the movies.
Her aggressiveness isn’t because she’s cruel by nature; it’s because she, like many Marines, holds herself and others to a high standard.
But in 2015, the Marine Corps relieved her of command at Parris Island for what the military called an abusive style of leadership.
She claims her leadership wasn’t abusive. Rather, it was the result of her holding men and women to the same, high standards.
“When we are direct or aggressive, those are qualities you expect from men,” Lt. Col. Germano says. “When women do that, you’re looked down upon. I was perceived differently as a woman who had those traits.”
Lt. Col. Germano has contested the decision for years, even after she retired from the Marines in 2016. Her main fight throughout the ordeal has been showing that the military is more than just the G.I. Joe stereotype — and that everyone, regardless of race or gender, be held to the same standard.
“There’s always a fear that integrating individuals who are different will cause non-cohesion and, therefore, casualties in combat,” she says. “The reality is, they’re giving their blood, sweat and tears every day. This is about making sure that our military is as tough, fast and strong as they need to be.”