Sex Roles

, Volume 60, Issue 3–4, pp 208–222 | Cite as

Height, Gender, and Authority Status at Work: Analyses for a National Sample of Canadian Workers

  • Tim GawleyEmail author
  • Thomas PerksEmail author
  • James Curtis
Original Article


A small number of previous studies using convenience samples from outside Canada, and mostly for males, show positive relationships between physical height and holding a position of authority as a manager or supervisor. The present study employs Multiple Classification Analysis to assess the generality of these patterns to a representative sample of full-time Canadian workers (2,210 males and 1,815 females) using seven alternative measures of authority status. The results for male workers, after controls, generally show significant positive relationships between height and authority status. The controlled analyses for female workers, however, do not. Additional analyses for males show height to be a comparatively strong predictor relative to other social background predictors of authority status. Alternative interpretations of the patterns of findings are discussed.


Height Authority status Gender 



We acknowledge with thanks that our data source was made available by the Housing, Family and Social Statistics Division, Statistics Canada, and that the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council provided funding for our work. Also, we owe thanks to Terry Stewart for his very helpful assistance with the analyses, and to Julie Dembski and Terry Stewart for their helpful comments on earlier drafts.


  1. Andrews, F., Morgan, J., Sonquist, J., & Klein, L. (1973). Multiple classification analysis (2nd ed.). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (1976). Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational reform and the construction of economic life. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  3. Case, A. C., & Paxson, C. H. (2006). Stature and status: Height, ability, and labor market outcomes. NBER Working Paper 12466. Retrieved April 10, 2008, from
  4. Connor Gorber, S., Tremblay, M., Moher, D., & Gorber, B. (2007). A comparison of direct vs. self-report measures for assessing height, weight and body mass index: A systematic review. Obesity Reviews, 8, 307–326.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cuneo, C. J., & Curtis, J. (1975). Social ascription in the educational and occupational attainment of urban Canadians. The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. La Revue Canadienne de Sociologie et d’Anthropologie, 12, 6–24.Google Scholar
  6. Curtis, J., Grabb, E., & Guppy, N. (Eds.). (2004). Social inequality in Canada: Patterns, problems, and policies (4th ed.). Scarborough, ON: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Dannenmaier, W. D., & Thumin, F. J. (1964). Authority status as a factor in perceptual distortion of size. The Journal of Social Psychology, 63, 361–365.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Deck, L. P. (1968). Buying brains by the inch. Journal of College and University Personnel Association, 19, 33–37.Google Scholar
  9. Demirjian, A. (1980). Anthropometry report: Height, weight and body dimensions. Ottawa: Department of Health and Welfare, Nutrition Division.Google Scholar
  10. Egolf, D. B., & Corder, L. E. (1991). Height differences of low and high job status, female and male corporate employees. Sex Roles, 24, 365–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Feldman, S. D. (1975). The presentation of shortness in everyday life—height and heightism in American society. In S. D. Feldman, & G. W. Theilbar (Eds.), Lifestyles: Diversity in American society (pp. 437–444, 2nd ed.). Boston: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  12. Frieze, I. H., Olson, J. E., & Good, D. C. (1990). Perceived and actual discrimination in the salaries of male and female managers. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20, 46–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gillis, J. S. (1982). Too tall, too small. Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing.Google Scholar
  14. Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. New York: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  15. Goffman, E. (1976). Gender and advertisements. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  16. Green, D.A., & Kesselman, J. R. (Eds.). (2006). Dimensions of inequality in Canada. Vancouver, BC: UBC.Google Scholar
  17. Guppy, N., & Arai, B. (1993). Who benefits from higher education? Differences by sex, social class and ethnic background. In J. Curtis, E. Grabb, & N. Guppy (Eds.), Social inequality in Canada: Patterns, problems, and policies (pp. 214–232, 3rd ed.). Scarborough, ON: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  18. Higham, P. A., & Carment, D. W. (1992). The rise and fall of politicians: The judged heights of Broadbent, Mulroney and Turner before and after the 1988 Canadian federal election. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 24, 404–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jones, F. E. (1985). Educational and occupational attainment: Individual achievement. In M. Boyd, J. Goyder, F. E. Jones, H. McRoberts, P. C. Pineo, & J. Porter (Eds.), Ascription and achievement: Studies in mobility and status attainment in Canada (pp. 101–163). Ottawa: Carleton University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Judge, T. A., & Cable, D. M. (2004). The effect of physical height on workplace success and income: Preliminary test of a theoretical model. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 428–441.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Keyes, R. (1980). The height of your life. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  22. Lass, N. J., Andes, S. E., McWair, C. D., Cline, A. L., & Pecora, M. C. (1982). Correlational study of subjects’ self-reported and measured heights and weights. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 54, 102.Google Scholar
  23. Marmot, M. G. (1986). The social environment. In R. G. Wilkinson (Ed.), Class and health: Research and longitudinal data (pp. 21–33). London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  24. Martel, L. F., & Biller, H. B. (1987). Stature and stigma: The biopsychosocial development of short males. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  25. Masur, A., Masur, J., & Keating, C. (1984). Military rank attainment of a West Point class: Effects of cadets’ physical features. American Journal of Sociology, 90, 125–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Melamed, T., & Bozionelos, N. (1992). Managerial promotion and height. Psychological Reports, 71, 587–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Millar, W. J. (1986). Distribution of body weight and height: Comparisons of estimates based on self-reported and observed measures. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 125, 122–126.Google Scholar
  28. Nahkaie, R. M., & Curtis, J. (1998). Effects of class position of parents on educational attainment of daughters and sons. The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. La Revue Canadienne de Sociologie et d’Anthropologie, 70, 483–515.Google Scholar
  29. Norusis, M. J. (1993). SPSS for windows base system, user’s guide, release 6.0. Chicago: SPSS.Google Scholar
  30. Palta, M., Prineas, R. J., Berman, R., & Hannan, P. (1982). Comparison of self-reported and measured height and weight. American Journal of Epidemiology, 115, 223–230.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Persico, N., Postlewaite, A., & Silverman, D. (2004). The effect of adolescent experience on labor market outcomes: The case of height. The Journal of Political Economy, 112, 1019–1053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pineo, P. C., Porter, J., & McRoberts, H. A. (1977). The 1971 census and the socioeconomic classification of occupations. The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology. La Revue Canadienne de Sociologie et d’Anthropologie, 14, 91–102.Google Scholar
  33. Roberts, J. V., & Herman, C. P. (1986). The psychology of height: An empirical review. In C. P. Herman, M. P. Zanna, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Physical appearance, stigma, and social behavior (pp. 113–140). Hilsdale, NJ: Lawrance Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  34. Robinson, R. V. (1984). Reproducing class relations in industrial capitalism. American Sociological Review, 49, 182–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Salska, I., Frederick, D. A., Pawlowski, B., Reilly, A. H., Laird, K. T., & Rudd, N. A. (2008). Conditional mate preferences: Factors influencing preferences for height. Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 203–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shepperd, J. A., & Strathman, A. J. (1989). Attractiveness and height: The role of stature in dating preference, frequency of dating, and perceptions of attractiveness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 15, 617–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sorokin, P. (1959). Social and cultural mobility. Glencoe, IL: Free.Google Scholar
  38. Spector, P. E. (2006). Method variance in organizational research: Truth or urban legend? Organizational Research Methods, 9, 221–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Statistics Canada (1995). The 1994 General Social Survey—Cycle 9, education, work and retirement: Public use microdata file documentation and user’s guide. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada.Google Scholar
  40. Stewart, A. L. (1982). The reliability and validity of self-reported weight and height. Journal of Chronic Diseases, 35, 292–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tom, G., & Shevell, J. (1986). The height of success. Sociology and Social Research, 71, 15–18.Google Scholar
  42. Wilkinson, R. (1996). Unhealthy societies: The afflictions of inequality. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  43. Wilson, P. R. (1968). Perceptual distortions of height as a function of ascribed academic status. The Journal of Social Psychology, 74, 97–102.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laurier BrantfordWilfrid Laurier UniversityBrantfordCanada
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada
  3. 3.University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

Personalised recommendations