WASHINGTON -- Two women training at the FBI have complained that a firearms test that measures trigger-pulling strength has been used by the law enforcement agency to discriminate against women, a lawyer for one of them said yesterday.
The other woman resigned yesterday after she had tried several times to pass a test in which new agents are required to pull the trigger of an unloaded handgun 29 times in 30 seconds.
Agents who repeatedly fail the test are dropped from the FBI.
Jessica Jurney, the trainee who resigned, said that at one point she pulled the trigger 27 times with her left hand and 25 times with her right hand.
After a debate over whether she could qualify with her left or right hand, she quit, saying she felt her trainers had labeled her a potential troublemaker.
Ms. Jurney, a 29-year-old lawyer from Mississippi, said the FBI had recruited her as part an effort to hire more women at an agency traditionally dominated by men.
"I went in thinking they would really work with me to be a good agent," she said, but encountered a rigid, sometimes hostile, environment at the FBI training base in Quantico, Va.
FBI officials have said they are evaluating the relevancy of the test. More broadly, Louis J. Freeh, the FBI director, has said he is committed to eliminating any bias he uncovers at the agency.
But some women say change is slow in coming.
The trigger-pull test is one of a number of issues that have prompted some women at the FBI to organize into a group that has begun the first steps that could lead to a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a prerequisite to a discrimination lawsuit against the agency.
Women said the test was not related to any task FBI agents are required to perform. They also complained that the test was sometimes given using weapons too large for their hands before they begin training.
The lawyer, David J. Shaffer, represents a group of women, including agents and prospective employees who say the FBI's policies discourage them from getting hired.
He said Ms. Jurney's case "shows how the Bureau is unwilling to change pervasive environmental issues at Quantico."