By Michael Bauldrick
As the end of the semester draws closer so does the urgency of graduating students to search for and obtain a position in today’s competitive job market. While most worry about the content or formatting in their resume, a rather LARGE minority of job seekers have the added pressure of being victims of HEIGHTISM.
This unspoken issue has limited job seekers and more specifically, public relations practitioners since the inception of the industry. As we go further into detail, we will see how human resource departments around the country and the entire world unknowingly discriminate.
It is exactly like it sounds. While racism and sexism are similar in nature, heightism is discrimination against individuals based on their height. As we all know, height is an uncontrollable factor based on our genes that cannot be altered or changed.
Most job recruiters for companies will say that they are looking for the best applicant to fill the position. But does the best person tend to always be the tallest applicant? The simple answer is yes. This unconscious-thought is known as the Halo Effect. This cognitive bias was developed by psychologist Edward Thorndike during the 1920’s. The theory states that we tend to associate certain traits with other specific unrelated traits. Our animal brain convinces us that people who are taller are more trustworthy, confident and believable.
A study developed by researchers at Ohio State University discovered that a person who is 6 feet tall is estimated to make $100,000 dollars more than a person who is 5 foot 4 inches, and this is accounting for gender and race. This may also extend towards mental barriers as well. A Princeton study showed that taller individuals tended to score higher on grade school tests. This may be related to the fact that people who have maximized their genetic potential(height) received better nutrients in their diets that fostered proper brain growth. It also should be known that in all United States presidential elections, only on four occasions has the shorter candidate won.
While it will be next to impossible to completely eliminate heightism, we can do our best to avoid it by learning about why we naturally think in a way that places people at a disadvantage when in fact they deserve a fair shake.
Bauldrick is a public relations senior