Taller women are more career-driven - that's the long and the short of it

TALL women are more ambitious in their careers and less inclined to start a family than shorter women, a study revealed yesterday.

Scots academics questioned 1,220 women from the UK, United States, Canada and Australia and found the taller ones were less broody, had fewer children and were more ambitious. They were also likely to have their first child at a later age.

Shorter women tended to be more maternal and homely, according to research carried out by psychologists Denis Deady, of Stirling University, and Miriam Law Smith, from St Andrews University.

They decided to carry out the work after previous research claimed taller women had fewer children because they struggled to find a mate. They say their research disproves that theory.

Instead, they suggest that taller women are likely to have more testosterone, which could give them more "male" traits, such as being assertive, competitive and ambitious.

Ms Law Smith said: "Men in all cultures are taller than women, and height must therefore be an indicator of greater physical masculinity.

"Tall women may have higher levels of testosterone which may cause them to have more masculine personalities. The physiology of the body controls the psychology of the mind."

Women such as Meg Whitman, the chief executive of the online auction site eBay (who is 5ft 9in tall), and L'Wren Scott, Mick Jagger's model girlfriend (6ft 4in), are prime examples of tall, career-driven women. They have both admitted to being intensely ambitious.

The women who took part in the research were divided into two groups - 679 aged 20 to 29, and 541 aged 45 and over. Their height ranged from 4ft 9in to just over 6ft - the average was 5ft 5in. Data was collected via e-mail questionnaires.

Participants were asked how many children they had or would like to have and at what age they had started or would like to start a family.

They were also asked how important a career was to them and how competitive they were.

Mr Deady said: "We think that tall women may have higher levels of testosterone which may cause them to have more 'masculine' personalities."

He stressed that this did not mean that taller women were unattractive.

"There would be a lot of very tall supermodels who could put forward a very impressive argument that being a tall woman does not mean you will look like a man," he said.

He went on: "Before children hit puberty, there is not a lot of difference between the height of boys and girls, but once puberty hits then boys tend to grow much taller than girls.

"Future studies should perhaps look at the underlying androgens that cause boys to grow taller than girls, and where girls also experience a growth spurt we should look at what masculine androgens cause this in them.

"It is perhaps these same hormones or androgens that cause many of these same women to be less broody."

Ms Law Smith, 27, who is 5ft 7in and has no children, said: "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."

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