The professional job market is more competitive than ever. You have probably figured out by now that it’s also not very fair. Here is another characteristic beyond your control (that most people don’t think about): your height!
To build your career, you always need to learn new things, keep up with growth, as well as make sure you improve the skills that you already own. Improving and acquiring new skills are good ways to market yourself and secure your career growth.
But even after all that, it might not be the case if you’re not blessed with height. Unfortunately, there are a lot of studies that resulted in the conclusion that height does matter in the workplace.
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The Height & Salary Bias
Effort and dedication can improve the skills an individual has. However, it seems like the option is limited when it comes to genetic determinants like weight and height. We all know there is often a connection between a person’s height and weight, and his or her social standing.
In a 2016 study from the University of Exeter, it was found out that shorter men and overweight women miss more income opportunities than their counterparts.
In his study, Professor Tim Frayling from the University of Exeter concluded that simply being a shorter man or an overweight woman leads to fewer opportunities in the professional world.
The study found out that men who are 3 inches shorter than their taller counterparts have £1,500 less income per year (almost $2,000 per year). This is also the same when it comes to women who are 6.3 kg (14 lbs) heavier than their counterparts. The study was conducted in UK Biobank with 120,000 volunteers.
Dr. Frayling reminded us that this is not always the case, as a lot of shorter men and heavier women are very successful of course. But one of the strongest connections that Frayling and his colleagues thought is the upbringing of a person.
Those who have poorer nutrition growing up tend to have shorter height and poorer BMI. Although the study cannot confirm the reason why this correlation exists, Frayling laid out possible causes such as discrimination, depression, lower self-esteem, or employer bias.
The previous study is not the only study that supports the correlation between height and salary, as well as career and income in the workplace. According to Timothy Judge and Daniel Cable in their 2004 study, there are important advantages that tall people have in their careers and organizational lives.
In their theoretical model, height is critical for social esteem and self-esteem, which is then critical for objective and subjective performance. If these two are good, then the person will likely have a better career and earnings. The study also found out that every inch in height amounts to a salary increase of $789 per year.
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The Height Premium Globally
This bias is not only present in western workplaces. According to Xiao Yang, Jian Gao, Jin-Hu Liu, and Tao Zhou from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, there is what they call a “height premium” in large-scale resume data.
The study focused on 140,000 Chinese jobseekers and it was found that the height premium has a stronger effect on females. However, the height premium decreases as the level of education for both genders increases. The study suggested encouraging career development for short people can help decrease the effects of the height premium.
Spawning Reasons for Height Bias
Nicola Persico, Andrew Postlewaite, and Dan Silverman have a different opinion on this matter. In their 2001 study, they suggested that what they call the “wage premium” for taller workers is caused by the height a person had as a teenager.
Business and politics are run by tall people. The average height of a Fortunate 500 CEO is 6’0″ while another study reveals 90% of all CEOs are above average height. More interestingly, a myriad of studies from the United States and Britain show tall people are 70% more likely to be hired for a job than a short person even if the candidates are equally qualified. In politics, basically, every modern US president has been above average height. And this makes sense: Who wants to be lead by a little person? People want their leaders to be mentally and physically strong.Andrea Benito
According to the study, two adults with the same height who have different height at the age of 16 are treated differently. This is because those who were short when they’re young lack the experiences and skills that tall people had (e.g. participation in school sports and clubs).
A 2006 study published in the University of Chicago also supports that there is a correlation between height and salary. But Anne Case and Christina Paxson suggested that the real reason why taller people have higher income is that they are smarter.
The study argued that people who are taller when they were children had a chance to participate in more cognitive tests. Taller children will have better cognitive skills, greater intelligence, verbal, and numerical skills which are often needed in high-earning jobs.
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How To Make Yourself Look Taller
There is nothing that can be done with genetics, upbringing and the nutritional diet that an adult received during his or her childhood. However, there are ways that an adult can look taller to their advantage. Here are some tips to help you with society’s unfair height bias problem.
1. Keep a good posture
Having a good posture both during sitting and standing can help you look taller, as well as improve your blood circulation. It gives off to everyone else in the office the appearance of internal confidence and assurance. Some of the tips to improve your posture is to keep your head level in line with your body, avoid locking your knees, keep your arms hang naturally, and to keep your weight on the balls of your feet.
2. Avoid bad sleep & diet habits
Getting too little or too much sleep, as well as maintaining unhealthy eating habits, can have harmful health effects such as cognitive impairment, higher risk of obesity, and a higher risk of stroke. Although a person stops growing in their early 20s, their height and appearance will still be overall affected if they’re unhealthy.
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3. Wear footwear with heels or try inserts
This is one of the most common ways to add height, especially for women, although it’s not the most comfortable one and not permanent. Although for men, inserts are probably the easiest way to give a few inches of height boost. A lot of people opt for heels or inserts because it is immediate and doesn’t do anything to your body permanently.
4. Maintain your BMI
Body Mass Index or BMI is the measure of body size based on weight and height. This is also the determinant if someone is overweight or not. Maintaining the right BMI doe not only make you healthier, but it also affects your appearance, giving you a leaner and taller look.
 University of Exeter: Tim Frayling – Height, body mass index, and socioeconomic status: Mendelian randomization study in UK Biobank
 Timothy A. Judge, Ph.D., and Daniel M. Cable, Ph.D. – The Effect of Physical Height on Workplace Success and Income: Preliminary Test of a Theoretical Model
 Xiao Yang, Jian Gao, Jin-Hu Lu, and Tao Zhou – Height conditions salary expectations: Evidence from large-scale data in China
 Nicola G. Persico, Andrew Postlewaite, and Dan Silverman – The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height
 Anne Case and Christina Paxson – Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes
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Nobody completely wins the genetic lottery, ok, maybe Gal Gadot and Chris Hemsworth, but no real people. We all struggle with some DNA related disadvantage or one from our childhood environment. I think of all of them height or lack thereof is the easiest one to work around. Just strive for excellence in what you do. I’m average height so it wasn’t an issue for me but I have had several short friends who had no difficulty whatsoever having amazing careers where virtually everyone working for them towered over them. But they were highly intelligent and empathetic and never saw their stature as a problem. Very interesting statistics, I knew that tall people had an advantage but I did not realize it was backed up by so much research.