General Question

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Why is the average man taller than the average woman?"?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (17719points) November 26th, 2016

Also is it like that world wide? What countries have women taller than men?

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18 Answers

LazyMe10's avatar

It’s usually because of genetics.
Most girls get there heights more from there mothers then their fathers.
If girls do get there dad’s height range then, in my opinion it’s rare.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Because humans have sexual dimorphism

Darth_Algar's avatar

For the same reason women, on average, have larger breasts than men. Sexual dimorphism is pretty common in nature.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Yup. For spiders it’s the other way.
The females are sometimes exponentially bigger than the male. And could kill him.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@LazyMe10 You don’t inherit your height from one parent or the other. Height is polygenic. In other words, it is determined by multiple genes from both parents. In this case, at least 20 genes are involved. (There is also some influence from the environment. Malnutrition can prevent someone from attaining their full potential height.)

@ARE_you_kidding_me @Darth_Algar “Sexual dimorphism” is the name of this phenomenon, not an explanation for it. Saying that men are on average taller than women because of sexual dimorphism is no more helpful than saying that men are on average taller because they are different sizes. It just a restatement.

@RedDeerGuy1 The answer to your question has to do with mating practices and sexual competition. There are two ways of eliminating sexual competition: radical polyamory (everyone has sex with everyone) and strict monogamy (no one ever has more than one sexual partner). In species that exhibit these behaviors, males and females have very similar body sizes. Strict monogamy can even lead to slightly larger females, since they are less likely to die during childbirth (and are therefore more likely to have surviving offspring).

But human beings do not practice either radical polyamory or strict monogamy. But when there is neither free access to sexual partners nor strict limitation to a single sex partner, we find ourselves in a situation where sexual access is not equally distributed. This leads to sexual competition, and size is an advantage when competing for sexual access (especially in the past when the competition was more likely to involve a physical confrontation). In human beings, it was historically the males competing for females. So it was the males who needed to be larger. Larger males had more children, and so the next generation was more likely to have larger males. The size of females was not as strictly controlled by evolutionary factors, so it remained roughly the same.

(If you’re interested, Jared Diamond’s book The Third Chimpanzee has a whole chapter on this, complete with many excellent references to previous work on the subject done by anthropologists and biologists.)

Darth_Algar's avatar


On the contrary it’s quite helpful, as it gives the thread starter a good overarching starting point (and a term he may not be familiar with) he can begin from if he wishes to further read about the subject in general.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@Darth_Algar Whatever you say. It just seems to me no different than answering “because they are.” The OP asked a why question, after all, and knowing what sexual dimorphism is doesn’t actually give an answer to the why question because sexual dimorphism is what’s being asked about and itself needs an explanation.

Darth_Algar's avatar


He also asked what countries have women taller than the men, which implies that he didn’t know that sexual dimorphism is a thing. Hence my answer. Sometimes it’s more helpful to a beginner to start him at the beginning rather than at a more distant point.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@JeSuisRickSpringfield Sexual dimorphism is not merely a description but a phenomena that is easy googled for a defacto answer to the OP question.

ragingloli's avatar

Because men have to compensate for their mental inferiority.

josie's avatar

Because not all sexual encounters among the “cavemen” were gentle loving events.

I bet some early human females might have occasionally put up resistance.

The ones big enough to fight off the advance got selected out of the gene pool

rojo's avatar

Sexual Dimorphism is the easy answer but that bring up the question of sexual selection; to wit, why would it be advantageous or why would a male prefer a smaller female to a larger one?

All things being equal, a larger females should produce an offspring more likely to survive and thus pass down the traits associated with larger females. So sexual dimorphism should diminish over time. At least that is the way I understand it. But that is not the case, the female of the species Homo has always been about 15% smaller than the male regardless of when we observe the species.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Larger doesn’t necessarily equate to more likely to survive.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I’m a very big guy. I am attracted to women with a big butt. After I took anatomy and physiology in school, I realized just how tight the pelvic opening is that a baby’s skull passes through. The cadaver skull and pelvis provided for lab were an eye opener. The skull just barely makes it through.

What am I getting at?

I hypothesize that I instinctively look for a female with a large pelvis. A woman who has a big butt,also usually has a large pelvis, and may be more likely to survive natural child birth ,if our offspring is as big as I was. I was 24 inches long, and 10 lbs when born. My mother was 5’11” ,pretty tall for a female. She had to be be induced, but was able to avoid a cesarean section.

As a larger man, I prefer taller ,“thicker” women. (For those who don’t know, in my region, “thick” means curvy.)

I think that’s something subconscious, or instinctive…

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@MrGrimm888 those are universal feminine characteristics related to reproduction. It’s not an accident that the hourglass figure and a thin layer of fat make women really attractive.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Yeah. Just thinking out loud. Size may play a role in sexual partner choice.

Not necessarily an advantage though. As many shorter men probably prefer women that aren’t taller than them…

So, just being tall, wouldn’t be a deciding factor in evolution of our species. That being said, we are taller on average now, than in the past.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Being tall is usually a strength advantage. It’s a characteristic women generally find more attractive and as a result the taller men have more reproductive access.

Zachary_Mendes123's avatar

It’s because of genetics. People say I’m way past average height. Well I am 6’9½ so that makes sense.

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