However, as we transitioned into the knowledge and digital economies, more and more jobs became sedentary. Few jobs now are done better by tall men (or women!) than short ones. Yet for both genders, there is still a relationship between height and wages. A 2015 study by Andreas Schick and Richard H. Steckel found that people in the 75th percentile of height made 9-15% more than people in the 25th percentile.
Additionally, a 2004 study by psychologist Timothy A. Judge and Daniel M. Cable found that every inch of height amounts to a salary increase of about $789 per year (the study controlled for gender, weight and age). Meaning that, on average, someone who is 6'0 earns $5,525 more per year than someone who is 5'6. Which, compounded, adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars over one's career.
The heads of big companies are, as I’m sure comes as no surprise to anyone, overwhelmingly white men, which undoubtedly reflects some kind of implicit bias. But they are also virtually all tall: In my sample, I found that on average CEOs were just a shade under six feet. Given that the average American male is 5’9″ that means that CEOs, as a group, have about three inches on the rest of their sex. But this statistic actually understates matters. In the U.S. population, about 14.5 percent of all men are six feet or over. Among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that number is 58 percent. Even more strikingly, in the general American population, 3.9 percent of adult men are 6’2″ or taller. Among my CEO sample, 30 percent were 6’2″ or taller. Read more >
Others argue that there are actual cognitive differences between taller and shorter people. Indeed, taller three-year-olds do better on certain cognitive tasks than shorter ones. And yes, we know that taller children are treated differently by teachers throughout elementary, middle and high school -- but, presumably, at such a young age, these social differences haven't had time to significantly impact cognitive ability.
So if the difference isn't due to nurture... it might be due to nutrition. One of the biggest detriments to height -- as well as cognitive development -- is nutrition. (Fun fact: some evolutionary psychologists believe that the reason we find long legs so attractive in women is because it is a sign of health and resilience. If anything ever interrupts a child's physical development -- including poor nutrition, disease, and emotional trauma -- the first thing that stops growing is their legs. Meaning people with long legs are more, and people with long torsos are less, resilient. Read more > )
"Those who were relatively short when young," the authors wrote, "were less likely to participate in social activities associated with the accumulation of productive skills and attributes, and report lower self-esteem."
Lower self-esteem and underdeveloped social skills make a difference in the workforce. People who lack confidence are generally seen as less authoritative, and must work harder to convince employers of their worth and leadership potential.
The truth, according to Schick and Steckel's aforementioned study, is that all of these probably play a role:
Taller children have higher average cognitive and noncognitive test scores and each aptitude accounts for a substantial and roughly equal portion of the stature-earnings premium.
I'm glad you asked! Here's what I'd recommend:
1. Start getting the most out of the body you have.
You may not be tall -- but you can still exude power, confidence and strength by making just a few adjustments to your posture and body language. As social psychologist and Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy said in her now-famous TED Talk:
2. Improve your posture.
Want to know the fastest way to look ten pounds lighter and several inches taller? Not to mention feeling healthier throughout your day? Fix your posture! (Your grandma will be proud.)
Some quick tips:
- Walk as though you're balancing a book on your head.
- Imagine a string coming out of the top of your head, pulling you slightly upward.
- Take a deep breath in as you raise your arms over your head. Lower your arms -- but keep your spine and rib cage in the raised position.
- Get mindful. Pick a color, object or sound you encounter regularly throughout your day. Whenever you see it, check your posture. Make adjustments, when necessary.
- While sitting on a soft surface, like a couch or armchair, place pillows behind your back to support your spine and encourage better posture.
There are also several products you can use to help you stand (and sit) taller. Most notable is the Lumo Lift Posture Coach and Activity Tracker, available on Amazon for $78.99.
Finally, you can check out posture braces. I don't know much about these, but they seem to be a pretty popular option. According to wikihow, you can accomplish a similar effect by placing an X on your back using tape.
Through exercise, you can both train yourself to stand taller and build your muscles, such that you exude more strength and power.
Yoga and rock climbing are both excellent choices, as they help you build strength as well as teaching you body awareness. Strength training, too, can be effective at both improving your posture and building muscle mass. Not to mention, exercise is good for your social, physical and emotional wellbeing.
Even if no one can see the difference in your fitness, when you feel better about your body, your confidence will show.