Why are Women (Generally) Smaller than Men?
This is one of those questions that until you ask it, you take the ‘answer’ for granted, the answer is “well of course it’s like that, why wouldn’t it be?”. However once you’ve asked it , it doesn’t seem so obvious at all.
In the UK, the average height of adult women is 5ft 4in, around 5 inches shorter than the average for men, yet, as gangly supermodels show, there is no law of physics preventing women from being taller than men. However, there may be some biological and evolutionary influences at work.
Firstly, girls experience a shorter period during which their long bones can grow.
Secondly, there are obvious reasons why women may have acquired a preference for taller men, who would have made for better protectors and hunters.
However, as brains are now more important than brawn, this selection effect appears to be diminishing: a recent study by Australian academics showed that the average height of women has increased by 1% over the last 80 years.