Skip to main content
Log in

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

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Sex Roles Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Andrews, F., Morgan, J., Sonquist, J., & Klein, L. (1973). Multiple classification analysis (2nd ed.). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (1976). Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational reform and the construction of economic life. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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 http://www.nber.org/papers/w12466

  • 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • Curtis, J., Grabb, E., & Guppy, N. (Eds.). (2004). Social inequality in Canada: Patterns, problems, and policies (4th ed.). Scarborough, ON: Prentice-Hall.

  • 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.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Deck, L. P. (1968). Buying brains by the inch. Journal of College and University Personnel Association, 19, 33–37.

    Google Scholar 

  • Demirjian, A. (1980). Anthropometry report: Height, weight and body dimensions. Ottawa: Department of Health and Welfare, Nutrition Division.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gillis, J. S. (1982). Too tall, too small. Champaign, IL: Institute for Personality and Ability Testing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goffman, E. (1976). Gender and advertisements. New York: Harper and Row.

    Google Scholar 

  • Green, D.A., & Kesselman, J. R. (Eds.). (2006). Dimensions of inequality in Canada. Vancouver, BC: UBC.

  • 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 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Keyes, R. (1980). The height of your life. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • 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 

  • Martel, L. F., & Biller, H. B. (1987). Stature and stigma: The biopsychosocial development of short males. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Melamed, T., & Bozionelos, N. (1992). Managerial promotion and height. Psychological Reports, 71, 587–593.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • 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 

  • Norusis, M. J. (1993). SPSS for windows base system, user’s guide, release 6.0. Chicago: SPSS.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • 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 

  • Robinson, R. V. (1984). Reproducing class relations in industrial capitalism. American Sociological Review, 49, 182–196.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sorokin, P. (1959). Social and cultural mobility. Glencoe, IL: Free.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spector, P. E. (2006). Method variance in organizational research: Truth or urban legend? Organizational Research Methods, 9, 221–232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • Stewart, A. L. (1982). The reliability and validity of self-reported weight and height. Journal of Chronic Diseases, 35, 292–309.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tom, G., & Shevell, J. (1986). The height of success. Sociology and Social Research, 71, 15–18.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilkinson, R. (1996). Unhealthy societies: The afflictions of inequality. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, P. R. (1968). Perceptual distortions of height as a function of ascribed academic status. The Journal of Social Psychology, 74, 97–102.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgement

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.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Tim Gawley or Thomas Perks.

Additional information

This article is dedicated to the extraordinary life and career of Professor James Curtis. His innovative promotion and advancement of Canadian sociology and psychology through teaching, research and heartfelt mentorship will always be remembered.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gawley, T., Perks, T. & Curtis, J. Height, Gender, and Authority Status at Work: Analyses for a National Sample of Canadian Workers. Sex Roles 60, 208–222 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9520-5

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9520-5

Keywords

Navigation