how ‘heightism’ affects careers
Global – Increasingly, society began to shout with one voice about various discriminations and point out that it is wrong to perceive a person outwardly. Skin color or eye color, religion or sexual preferences – this is not what the boss should be guided by when hiring staff for work. Of course, you can’t argue with that! But that doesn’t change the fact that people still perceive other people visually. Most often this happens on an instinctive level.
Thus, height discrimination is one of the least known or discussed prejudices and one of the most difficult to validate.
However, research shows that at the professional level, height affects both men and women in tangible, if slightly different, ways. Research shows that height correlates with higher income: recruiters favor taller candidates, and height affects promotion opportunities. Research shows that we perceive taller men and women as more “leader-of-thumb”, believing them to be more dominant, smarter, and healthier. Tall men are more likely to occupy leadership positions.
However, heightism is an implicit bias that we may subconsciously harbor or even internalize without even realizing it. And it is this secrecy that makes it particularly difficult to eradicate.
Stand high and fall
We know that there are various forms of discrimination related to the way we look, such as weight discrimination or a child’s face. But we also discriminate against people based on height because we think one height is better than another.
Our reverence for heights may indeed be instinctive, a remnant of the primitive ways in which we mapped social hierarchies in the past. In our ancestors, the impressive physical form was an important quality of a leader.
Heightism permeates even the language, which is full of idioms that emphasize the virtues of being tall and associate negative qualities with being short. “Fail” means to draw the short straw, to fail or be left without change; “Winning” in life means that we can stand tall, fulfill high orders, turn into big tall oak trees from small acorns, and be head and shoulders above the rest.
A study of systemic discrimination in employment has shown that employers may reject short candidates even if their resume is similar to that of a taller candidate, and they subconsciously associate positive qualities in the workplace, such as confidence, competence, and physical ability, with tall stature. Thus heightism has a profound and measured impact on the success of workers.
Growth can also contribute to the wage gap. Research from the UK, China, and the US shows a correlation between higher growth and higher pay, although the exact numbers vary.