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The long & short of it – tall women aim high

New research has revealed that tall women may be more ambitious in their careers and less inclined to start a family.

Miriam Law Smith of the University of St Andrews and Denis Deady of the University of Stirling – both final-year psychology PhD students – drew their conclusions from the results of an online questionnaire answered by 1220 women from the UK, US, Australia and Canada.

The women who took part were divided into two groups – pre- reproductive, consisting of 679 females aged 20-29 – and post- reproductive, made up of 541 women aged 45 and over. They were asked questions about maternal tendencies such as how many children they would like to have/have had and at what age they would like to start/had started a family. The researchers also asked how important a career was to them and how competitive they were.

Miriam Law Smith (27), who is 5ft 7in and has no children said, “We related the height of every woman with their scores. It wasn’t so much that women above a certain height were less maternal . . . more that the taller she was the less maternally driven she was likely to be. Our population sample from the internet questionnaire was a normal population so the mean height was, as expected, about 5ft 5ins.”

She said their findings suggested there had to be a biological reason which explained why taller women were more masculine in their attitudes and said it could either be due to increased levels of male hormone testosterone or lower levels of oestrogen. “We’re not saying that all tall women are ambitious and all short women just want to have babies. But our research definitely suggests an effect in this direction. Taller women seem to be more dominant, assertive and career-minded.”

Denis Deady said, “Our study has shown that traditional masculine traits, such as being more career driven, are related to physical stature. Previous studies have suggested that taller women may have more trouble finding mates. However we think that tall women may have higher levels of testosterone which may cause them to have more ‘masculine’ personalities.”

ENDS

For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer, University of St Andrews – 01334 462530/07730 415 015; Miriam Law Smith, email mjls@st- andrews.ac.uk or phone 01334 463044; Denis Deady, email d.k.deady@stir.ac.uk or phone 01786 466845.

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