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Oct 05 2005

Dipwad Study Of The Week

There’s nothing like one of those gender-wars studies to highlight the stupidity of the bogus masculine/feminine dichotomy. Here’s one showing that tall women are more "masculine" than short women. In this instance, "masculine" seems to mean "not broody."

There has to be a biological reason that tall women are such great butch oddities, and this study says it’s because they "may" have more testosterone than short ones. This makes them act like big aggressive dudes who launch ambitious careers and refrain from reproduction. Unlike the more ladylike shrimpies, who enjoy cleaning toilets and incubating fetuses.

Testosterone, in other words, is strictly within the masculine purview. Even though women have it.

Of course, the study "stressed that this did not mean that taller women were unattractive." Because there are, you know, supermodels.

45 comments

  1. M

    Arg. Live in Scotland. Must apologise on behalf of Scotland. Sorry.

    So:
    1. Wealth = height. Not a complete correlation, but better nutrition = taller. So more tall women will be from affluent backgrounds. This can foster ambition, make you more likely to go to university etc. More educated women are more likely to have fewer children later.
    2. How about the way you look at the world? I’m tall (6ft), and I think that being able to look down on blokes does affect how you look at the world. For example, I’ve never been afraid to walk alone at night, even when my peers were.
    3. More testosterone sounds very much like a feeble cry from a ‘wee man’; you can’t have GIRLS kicking your ass, they must be girls who are full of bloke juice! That wasn’t a big woman who beat you, it was a big man with breasts!

    Denis Deady & Miriam Law Smith – are you fighting, cos I’m askin!

  2. Carol

    Blame it on the patriarchy. Men with their precarious self-esteem are intimidated by tall women — she towers over me! I have lost the illusion that I might dominate her! she can kick my ass! — and so they are less likely to date and marry tall women. The tall women thus have longer careers, increasing the chances they will advance in their chosen path, and bear children at later ages.

  3. Mychelline

    Okay, I’m a 72.5 inch woman with no kids, but I’m not particularly competitive, although I have learned, over many years of trying to counteract my upbringing, how not to be a doormat (so maybe that makes me assertive?). I’m 39, and haven’t yet found a career that suits me. Does that mean I’m “masculine”, or “feminine”, or just too picky?

    I’ve been told I have a model’s body (tall, naturally thin, leggy, hardly any curves), but I’m not conventionally pretty, thankfully. I’m very happy being a woman though. Weird.

  4. kathy a

    they call this a “study?” that suggests some kind of scientific validity, of which this little folly seems to be lacking.

    1200 respondents can’t possibly represent the universe of short and tall women. the respondents chose to be subjects, and they self-reported — there is no objective evidence here. even the thesis about testosterone is completely made-up; an email response to a questionnaire isn’t exactly like running blood tests.

    as an example of the scientific rigor applied to this venture, i offer:

    “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.” so, even something that *could* be objectively assessed, such as “how many kids and when did you have them,” instead is infected with some number of wish lists.

    i particularly love the conclusion that shorties such as myself are likely to be more maternal and “homely.” was there a “homeliness” scale on the email questionnaire, or do they have photos, do you suppose? oh, wait — all they needed was the supermodel photos.

    personally, i think my shortitude is somehow connected to the fact that almost all my blood relatives are short people. somehow, all of us who are of age have also managed to have careers, including some butt-kicking ones. we must be anomolies.

  5. Ron Sullivan

    You’re back!!

    How’re you doing?

    (And oh yeah, one more bullshit It Must Be A Hormonal Imbalance Um I Don’t Mean To Imply It’s A Problem Or Anything, Why Are You Being So Defennnnsive-? “news” item. There should be a museum of those. Starting before the discovery of hormones, I guess.)

  6. Emma

    i particularly love the conclusion that shorties such as myself are likely to be more maternal and “homely.”

    I think this is one of those ‘divided by a common language’ moments. The author of this article means that shorter women are likely to be more domestic, rather than unattractive.

    I can only echo M’s apology.

  7. Twisty

    Yup, I’m back. I’ve got a slice in my armpit and a slice on my boob, and they both hurt, and of course I aslo got my fucking PERIOD, so I’ve washed down a few Darvocets with some fairly ancient cognac, which is why this post contains no analysis and appears to have been written by a 6-year-old.

  8. Anonymous

    Don’t testosterone levels fluctuate *in response* to competitive achievment anyway? From what i can (mistily, vaguely) remember of a biology book i was reading recently, when men do well in athletic or academic competitions their testosterone levels rise, whereas if they don’t, they stay the same. Therefore, a study based on tall women (who tend to do statistically better in traditionally male business areas, perhaps *due* to the perception that they are less feminine)could well show elevated testosterone levels and career orientation, without necessarily meaning that the former causes the latter. But that’s just not as fun for Ev Psych types as tall women being manly, i guess…

  9. MsKate

    Since when is testosterone a growth hormone anyway????? Different endocrine system, dudes. It could just be that taller women are simply more patriarchy-resistant than their less statuesque peers. Taller men seem to be too (where is the term “short man syndrome” when you need it?).

    In any case, at 5’3.5″, I walk anywhere I damn well please, thank you. Then again, I’m built like a mack truck, and have been known to pick up girlfriend hitting jerks and pin them to the wall of a subway entrance, feet dangling. That’s adrenaline and outrage, not testosterone and stature.

    Good to hear you are back, twister sister. With those boo boos of yours, you will prolly want to wear a bum bag for a while ’til you heal. Enjoy the drugs while they are legal!

  10. Jodie

    Gah — what a load of crap. More holes than Swiss cheese and air-headed speculation. Makes all researchers look bad. And those psychologists should have known better — stats and methods are part of what they should get as grad students, although apparently not wherever THEY went to school.

  11. Josef K

    Right, let me get this straight:

    1.Wanting children is the same as having children, so you can put both groups of women in the same category.
    2. Having children means that you’re more feminine than people who don’t have children.
    3. Ditto wanting children.
    4. This lack of femininity must be caused by high testosterone levels.
    5. There is no need to measure anyone’s testosterone levels for the purpose of the study – it’s OK to just assume it.
    6. There is no need to distinguish between social, environmental and biological factors when reaching conclusions.
    7. No need for any follow-up research before you publish your findings.
    8. No need to interview more than 1220 women.

    Jeez. I don’t know where to start. Knowing what I know about science journalists, I would cut the scientists a tiny bit of slack on the assumption that they’re bound to have been misreported in some way. But EVEN SO.

  12. octopod

    Testosterone? A growth hormone? I thought it was a growth retardant – the castrati were frequently very tall for that exact reason, weren’t they?
    Also, that wasn’t a study. That was an e-mail questionnaire followed by some random hypothesizing about hormones for no reason I could divine. Bah.
    Heal quickly, O Twisty. Lots of good vibes coming out from your loyal readers, whatever those are good for…

  13. piny

    >>Since when is testosterone a growth hormone anyway????? Different endocrine system, dudes. It could just be that taller women are simply more patriarchy-resistant than their less statuesque peers. Taller men seem to be too (where is the term “short man syndrome” when you need it?).>>

    Hm. I’m gonna hit up my favorite endocrine geek friend and see if I can’t get some reliable science. This sounds like an oversimplification.

    Testosterone is associated with gains in muscle mass, and it does spur pubertal growth spurts in men; women with higher endogenous t levels may well be taller for that reason. I have no idea.

  14. MsKate

    Yes, Testosterone levels do rise in pubescent males and are involved with growth spurt activity … BUT you HAVE to HAVE the cellular receptors for it!

    Thus there was an elite (world ranked, but not world-beating) Spanish “female” sprinter with XY chromosomes but XX phenotype … she had a gronked gene for testosterone receptors and thus was, for all intents and purposes, female. (agendered, actually) She had to fight to compete, as she didn’t even have the same advantages as the 3% of the XX population who CAN use their testosterone.

    Yes, that’s right, 3%. Whole lot of shaving and waxing going on.

  15. kathy a

    thanks for the clarification, emma. curiously, even though i’m short, i hate housework as much as the next person.

    ms. kate — from my low altitude, some tall guys just take up all the space. you know the ones i mean — they act like you are invisible, try to shove ahead in line at the supermarket, belittle thoughts and abilities of the less-statuesque at work. not all tall guys, but those most endowed with patriarchal entitlement baggage.

    twisty — glad you’re back! go curl up on the couch, and make someone bring you tacos.

  16. kcb

    Glad you’re back, Twisty. As a member of a large clan of short, aggressive, breedin’ women, I simply cannot wrap my mind around the conclusion of that “study.” But maybe that’s due to the estrogen gumming up my synapses.

  17. Daphne

    I haven’t done a thorough reading of ANYTHING but christ if I didn’t already feel totally unfeminine, large and ugly around petite women already. THANKS, PATRIARCHY.

  18. Josef K

    By the way, when I first went shopping for wedding dresses, they were all designed for women of about 5’10″. This is apparently because it’s easier to take sizes up than make them bigger, although that explanation makes NO SENSE because you don’t actually buy the samples in the shop, you get them made in your size anyway.

  19. Sylvanite

    To the best of my recollection, the human growth factor gene is found on the X chromosome, which is why single-X women (Turner’s syndrome) are usually very short, and XXY males (Klinefelter’s syndrome) are taller than their normal XY relatives. Don’t think testosterone has anything to do with it. As was noted by MsKate, androgen-insensitive pseudohermaphrodites tend to be tall. Their bodies have no receptors for testosterone AT ALL. Consequently, they tend to be superfeminine in appearance. A larger than background number of fashion models are apparently pseudohermaphrodites of this type.

    No, I don’t know which ones (I read this in an article in Discover Magazine a few years ago), but I have heard rumors about Jamie Lee Curtis…:)

  20. piny

    >>Testosterone? A growth hormone? I thought it was a growth retardant – the castrati were frequently very tall for that exact reason, weren’t they?>>

    It’s a bit more complicated than that. Testosterone speeds up the process whereby the epiphyses (sp?) of your long bones fuse, thereby ending growth-spurts forever. If you have really high testosterone levels, that can happen sooner. If you don’t have any testosterone, it doesn’t happen. That’s why the castrati had such malleable, expandable frames and why their long bones were so very long: their bodies didn’t produce testosterone, so their long bones never fused.

  21. piny

    Also, they weren’t just tall and big. They had unusually wide ribcages and unusually long arms and legs even for their height.

  22. joolya

    That is bollocks. The thing about testosterone is complete speculation, for one thing.
    Another thing is that there’ve been studies that show that tall men are _percieved_ as being more imposing and are more likely to be promoted over shorter men – why should this unfortunate sterotype not apply to women as well, putting the wee ones at a slight disadvantage in terms of careers?
    I would imagine height matters less for women than for men, if anything.
    Dumb, dumb, dumb.

  23. wolfangel

    Yes, because there’s not been dozens of studies showing a correlation between business success and height in men.

  24. sarah irene

    Best sentence in the article, regarding a couple of high-profile tall women: “They have both admitted to being intensely ambitious.” Shocking admissions, indeed.

  25. Aero

    That doesn’t make any sense. Studying the effects of testosterone and estrogen and other so called sex hormones is difficult, but sheesh, you think they could avoid conclusions like this at least.

    And it apparently makes my small horde of short, aggressive, female friends an anomaly.

    I’m sure this isn’t news to most of you, but Natalie Angier’s “Woman: An Intimate Geography” and Anne Fausto-Sterling’s “Sexing the Body” are great resources for understanding female biology. The also both cover the intersexed, especially “Sexing the Body”.

  26. octopod

    Re: testosterone and epiphysis fusion – thanks, that makes sense now, especially given that thing about *all* the long bones being somewhat overgrown. I should’ve looked that up, but I was in class…:-p

  27. piny

    Oh, no aspersions here. My knowledge of the endocrine system is much less developed than it should be, all things considered. I wasn’t sure about the epiphysis thing, either, until I looked it up. Most of my knowledge of castrati comes from Anne Rice.

    Incidentally, I’ve heard that excessive body-building when you’re a wee growing boy can also stunt your growth. Dunno if or how it’s related.

  28. d.e.i.x.i.s.

    I don’t know from genetics, but still. I call BULLSHIT!

    +++you can’t have GIRLS kicking your ass, they must be girls who are full of bloke juice!+++
    Oh, dear lard, that was riotous! I’m 6 feet tall, too, but like you, I think that my fuck-you-ness comes from being able to step on half of the people around me rather than a hormonal imbalance.

    Where was that one asshole saying that lesbians have more testosterone in their uteri? Being a 6′ lesbian must make me a veritable FOUNTAIN of ‘bloke juice’ o_o

  29. woojzee

    Well, “A pit bull in size 6 shoes” is about to become a life long member of the SCOTUS.
    Short, mean and loyal? But she hasn’t had kids, so that = she’s got testosterone? She has a career = mean? She thinks Bush is the most intelligent man she has ever met=a dog? I’m so confused!

  30. Twisty

    Hey Piny, my dog trainer says that if I give Bert the old castrato treatment before he’s 12 months old, he will develop an unsightly lankiness. Related?

  31. piny

    Really? That’s interesting! I’d assume so–dogs probably undergo the same process at some point, when their bones stop needing to grow. I’ve never been in charge of neutering a pet, so I wouldn’t know.

  32. clew

    My out-of-a-hat recollection of testosterone levels increasing in persons engaged in competition is that they go up if you win, and down if you lose, even if the fight is rigged. (Oo! Perpetuation of power structures, anyone?)

    I probably got this from a book I greatly recommend, _Why So Slow?_ by Virginia Valian (review, author) – but the current _Nature_ has a lovely example of testosterone/winning in cichlids.

  33. The Fat Lady Sings

    Twisty dear –

    Good for you posting that photo. You have courage to spare, honey; it’s what attracted me to this site in the first place. I’m sorry you are in pain. So let someone fuss over you a bit – get your tea, fluff your pillow. You really deserve it. Pain is something I understand. Hugging my critters always helps; so cuddle that puppy. It will take your mind off the discomfort. Even a tiny break can help.

    As for that study – I remember being told that as a woman ages she produces more testosterone and less estrogen. This supposedly makes her more aggressive and less feminine. Right! Let me tell you why it is older women are more aggressive – we have, quite simply, had it. With male bullshit, that is. I no longer give a good god damn what anyone thinks of or about me – so my mendacity meter pegs high on the first strike. I have absolutely no qualms on walking up to absolutely anyone and giving them a piece of my mind. Old broads can do that with impunity, you know. Everyone get so baffled, they just smile weakly and stammer. It’s really cool!

    So testosterone be damned! And by the way – I used to be considered ‘tall’ at 5’9”. I loved it – except most of the men I would run into were shorter than me. I didn’t care – but they sure did! It also had an affect on my career. I started out as an actor – mostly musical comedy. As a soprano, the ingénue roles fit my vocal range. However, most directors were reluctant to cast a female lead 4-6 inches taller than whoever she would be playing opposite! Eventually, I gave up and started directing. Suited me so much more.

    Anyway – for those of you not yet past 40 – just you wait! You will love every minute of it – trust me!

  34. BitingBeaver

    Fat lady, you’re right on the money with the old=bitchy analogy.

    As for the height thing pshaw, these fools have no clue. Height=Power in Patriarchal terms. My S.O. is 6’6″ and towers over me (although, I’m relatively tall too) we did a ‘scientific experiment’ not too long ago, (ok, less scientific than I’m making it out to be *grin*) he kind of crouched at the level I was normally at making me ‘taller’ than him.

    I have to say, there was a certain bit of power in being taller than him. I thought seriously about taking him to the hospital and having them cut him off at the knees. All joking aside, from my perspective I ‘felt’ more powerful the instant I was taller. However, I’m also aware that that may have something to do with having absorbed the ‘height=power’ trick that the patriarchy imbues us with from the day we’re born.

    Twisty, I hope you’re feeling ok, those pictures looked brutal and I too blame the Patriarchy.

  35. tall girl

    finally delurking here…

    in college, i was lucky enough to have Elise Boulding, a feminist sociologist, come and talk to my class. she started her career in the late 40s/early 50s and has been very well respected in her field. she’s almost six feet tall. (oh, she had children too.)

    someone asked the question about how she was able to be a career woman before such a thing really existed. she immediatley said, “I am tall. That makes me lucky because men take tall women seriously. They have no choice but to look up at me.”

    i had another conversation with a brilliant short woman on this topic. she has a wicked, biting, kick-ass sense of humor. she thinks that if she said the things she says and were eight inches taller, people would think she’s scary and mean, not funny. but because she’s short, people think she’s funny and cute. she hates it. me too.

    interesting side note from this dog lover: dogs respond to the “authority” of height. possibly because they have adapted themselves so well to living in the patriarchy and are adept at responding to our insane subconcious ways of relating to one another?

    Twisty, i love your blog. thank you for doing this for all of us. i hope your recovery is swift and the pain killers of the patriarchy are merciful.

  36. Emmy

    As a tall Scottish feminist, I can safely say “That study’s pure pish!”.

    P.S. You are my arch patriarchy-blamer and I wish you a full and speedy recovery.

  37. ae

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

    Well, thanks! 68.5-inches reporting in — childless, though plenty brooding. Hee.

    What could be “unattractive” about some dispassionate statistic like height? Ohhhh yeeeeaaaaaah, I remember now: the patriarchy. Riight on time, as always.

    Whatever the physio/biological reasons for above-average height in women, be it better nutrition or the sciencey things Piny mentioned, those reasons do not comment on attractiveness as a social value, so why the rush by the scientists to assure us that tallness does not equal un-hotness? Mm hmm. Could it be that people associate tallness w/ “masculine” traits like ambition, which they do not then associate w/ the hotness of the ladies? My ultra-scientific conclusion is that that is dumb.

    Also, saying males are taller than females is not the same as saying tall women are “masculine.” Keerist. Are these people supposed to be scientists?

    {{{ Twisty }}}

  38. ae

    P.S. Yaay for all the tall gals on this blog! =D Let’s start a volleyball team!

  39. BritGirlSF

    Short women are all soft and femmey? Bollocks. I’m 5ft2, and so aggressive that I was the first girl at my school to get in trouble for crosschecking in a lacrosse game (which I had never seen done – as far as I was concerned I invented the concept).
    And tall women are “masculine”? Well, maybe if you’re a guy with more issues than the National Geographic you might see it that way. Is our reseacher feeling a bit intimidated?
    I have to add my voice to the chorus of apologies on behalf of the Scots. We’re not all that dumb, honest.
    Tall Girl’s comment was interesting. It has occurred to me that because I’m little I “get away” with behaviour that would be perceived as very aggressive coming from a bigger or less conventionally feminine-looking woman. It’s as if men are so conditioned to think “small, pretty, boobs – harmless little moppet!” that they are incapable of realising when smaller women really are being aggressive. I wonder how many taller women here have found that people perceive them as being aggressive even when they’re not actually behaving in an aggressive manner at all?
    Slightly off topic, but I suspect that less conventionally attractive or “feminine” looking women are also percived as more aggressive than they actually are, and that conversely pretty, “feminine” women are rarely perceived as aggressive simply because men rarely take them seriously. A bit of anecdotal evidence – I have never got a job that I interviewed for wearing a skirt (although I have had the interviewer try to ask me out – isn’t that unwise from a legal point of view?). Interviewers take me more seriously if I wear a pants suit. The difference in perception is quite easy to see. In other words the less “feminine” a woman looks, the more seriously others take her. Stray too far from the “feminine” path, however, and a woman is once again dismissed as not worth taking seriously, this time for different reasons.
    Fucking patriarchy.

  40. M

    Argh… I’ve just tried to explain to a friend of a friend why this is sexist crap and he doesn’t understand.
    And I thought he was a nice guy. Heigh ho.

  41. Anders Widebrant

    “Of course, the study “stressed that this did not mean that taller women were unattractive.” Because there are, you know, supermodels.”

    And if they’re not, they could totally beat you up. So let’s not piss them off.

  42. Toni

    Just another study looking to justify an irrational and harmful sterotype, in this case tall=superior. Or maybe tall=more masculine (testosterone)=superior. Nice.

  43. Teenagecatgirls

    My sister’s a bleedin’ amazon and she popped one out at the tender age of twenty two, so that’s a pile of bullshit.

    Poor little short men, being scared of lanky women eh?

  44. Miriam Law Smith

    Dear All,
    As the co-author of this study I feel compelled to post a response. There are just so many inaccurate statements here, I feel I have to address them one by one, starting at the beginning. However, I would say to all that, as a scientist we are taught to actually read the scientific paper if we wish to make comments or pass judgement, rather than just a simplified news story. Also, the general commentary on our lack of scientific vigour is ironic in the light of the anecdotal evidence being used in response; (those of you with an elementary understanding of statistics will have heard the phrase “many anecdotes don’t make data”.)

    Ok, here we go…

    Dear M who lives in Scotland:
    1. In response to the wealth=height comment… of course, this is correct, this is why in our study we statistically controlled for parental wealth (so our findings cannot be due to wealthy educated parents having taller children who then, due to upbringing, end up more career orientated themselves).
    2. Yes, of course, height will affect they way you look at the world, however this does not negate there being biological effects on personality. There is a huge body of scientific literature that has related aspects of personality to physical traits, our study simply follows on from this by looking specifically at maternal tendencies.
    3. In a follow-up study (that was mentioned other news coverage of our study, including The Times), we actually measured testosterone and found that women with higher testosterone had less maternal tendencies. Thereby supporting the contention that maternal tendencies are, at least partially, related to hormone levels.
    4. “Denis Deady & Miriam Law Smith – are you fighting, cos I’m askin” doesn’t qualify a response.

    Dear Carol,
    Your assertion that tall women are less likely to date and marry has certainly been speculated before by scientists. This is why we also looked at young women who have not yet had children. It is unlikely that this “problem” for tall women would extend to their aspirations for having children, if it did act as a constraint, the effect would show only in those having completed their families. There is also no evidence to suggest that tall women have more trouble dating or finding partners.

    The main reason why most of these blog posts are incorrect is because we have demonstrated linear relationships across the ENTIRE range of normal heights. That is, it is not an effect just found in taller than average women. For example, this means that women of 5ft 2 (below average height) are less maternal than those of 5ft 0, and women of 5ft 4 are less maternal than those of 5ft 2 (etc. etc. etc.) Therefore, our results CANNOT be accounted for by any aspect of “very tall” women that you all have mentioned (e.g. that tall women are perceived/ treated differently, able to act differently etc).

    Again, we have also shown a linear relationship (again across the entire normal range of height) with rated importance of having a career and competitiveness.

    Dear Kathy A,
    1. 1200 participants is certainly a sample much large than used in most studies, and far larger than we needed to collect in order to see the effect sizes we have reported. Self-report is the only, and necessarily the best, way of finding out about people’s personality.
    2. As I’ve mentioned, our follow-up study looked at salivary testosterone levels of women.
    3. We DID ask women how many kids they had (women aged 45 and over who had completed their families) in order to replicate other scientists’ findings of tall women HAVE less children. The whole point of asking young women (between 20-29) how many children they WANTED was to get at a different issue; the maternal tendencies of women and their aspirations, precisely their ideals or wish-lists.
    4. “Homely” was never a word we mentioned, the media often over-generalise, simplify, or even make up their statements in order to make a clearer story! For example, reports of my own personal height have varied between 5ft7 in Scottish newspapers (correct) to 5ft9 in Australian ones! Maybe it makes a better story for the scientist to be a ‘tall’ woman!
    5. Your anecdote at the end nicely compounds your earlier statement about how we should have tested more people!

    Dear Ron Sullivan,
    I would like to respond, but it’s not really clear what you are saying. We have never said “hormonal imbalance/problem”, and I haven’t seen any news items reporting it as such either.

    Dear Emma,
    We have found on average, that shorter women rate themselves as more maternal than taller women. This is the relationship we have found. Obviously not ALL shorter women will be more maternal.
    Also, we never mention “homely” or “domestic”.
    We mention than taller women are not less attractive in order to clear up a speculation by earlier scientists that tall women are less attractive to men, which (aside from being fairly offensive) has not been backed up by data.

    Dear ‘unnamed post’
    Yes, testosterone levels do fluctuate in response to all sorts of daily interactions. However, there is endocrinological data that shows baseline testosterone levels have a huge genetic component, so even though there will be a lot of variation in individuals levels in response to events, overall their baseline levels will be biologically determined.
    Also, we do not say tall women are ‘manly’. Higher testosterone in women has been linked to more traditionally ‘masculine’ traits in a whole host of studies previous to ours.

    Dear MsKate,
    Testosterone plays a huge role in bone growth. There are literally thousands of studies to back this up.
    As an aside to your anecdote about “hitting jerks”, interestingly, testosterone has in fact been linked to aggression and assertiveness in women.

    Dear Jodie,
    To what “holes” do you refer? Please make it clear so I am able to answer. As far as “airhead speculation”, the only ‘speculation’ we make is that testosterone may the proximate control behind our results, to which we have provided evidence in our follow-up study showing women with higher salivary testosterone have lower maternal tendencies.
    We are both highly trained in statistics and research methods. I advise you actually read our scientific papers before you make such ill informed statements.

    Dear Josef K,
    1. Wanting children is most certainly not the same thing as having children. We did not combine groups. We tested 2 samples of women; over 45s, who we asked how many children DID you have; and 20-29 year olds, who we asked how many children do you WANT. The data was never combined.
    2 and 3. Wanting children is typically a ‘feminine’ trait. Research shows women are more interested in children than men, therefore by definition, interest in children IS a feminine trait.
    4 and 5. We have shown in our follow-up study that testosterone levels ARE related to these maternal tendencies.
    6. We do distinguish between social, environmental and biological factors. We have only ever stated that maternal tendencies may be PARTIALLY under the control of hormonal influences.
    7. Yes, we did follow-up research. Please read our papers before attempting to comment.
    8. 1220 women is far more than was necessary to pick up any effect size of this kind, if the effect was there.

    YOU don’t know where to start?! Are you kidding, that’s what I should be saying. Although thank you for at least acknowledging that science journalists may simplify studies in order to make the story.

    Dear Octopod,
    Please refer to my earlier comment on testosterone and bone growth. I can send you a list of relevant references if you are interested in some further reading. We do not randomly hypothesise about hormones, we scientifically tested them in our follow-up study.

    Dear Piny,
    Thank you for the first bit of actual fact I have read on this blog so far. Yes, testosterone does spur pubertal growth spurts in men and women.

    Dear MsKate,
    Both men and women have cellular receptors for testosterone in bone. I can send you a list of further reading if you are interested.

    Dear Sylvanite,
    You are referring to clinical syndromes, they should not be used to inform you whether testosterone plays a role in bone growth in a non-clinical sample. Again, I can refer to reading about the role of testosterone in bone growth, if you are interested.

    Dear Piny,
    Again, thank you for some introduction of fact to the website.

    Dear Joolya,
    Our follow-up study measures testosterone, therefore it is not “complete speculation”.
    Yes, tall men are perceived as more imposing. However, as mentioned at the beginning, we demonstrate our effects over the ENTIRE range of height.

    Dear Aero,
    Please inform me what precisely doesn’t make sense, then I can attempt to clarify it for you.

    Dear D.E.I.X.I.S, Emmy, and BritGirlSF,
    Please refer to my earlier comments, where your concerns are covered.

    Dear The Fat Lady Sings,
    You are correct, the balance of testosterone to oestrogen does change as a woman ages. For instance, this is why women’s body shapes change after menopause, whereby the waist-to-hip ratio becomes more like that of males.

    Dear BitingBeaver and Tall girl,
    Again, I refer you to our findings, that we demonstrated our effects over the entire range of normal height (see beginning of this post).

    Dear AE,
    Ok, the reason we mention that tall women are not less attractive, is because previously other scientists have reported that the reason tall women have less children is because they cannot find partners. We thought this was nonsense, and thus wished to demonstrate that the reason tall women (on average) have less children may instead be because tall women (on average) WANT to have less children. I would have thought this would sound like a breath of fresh air to a feminist website :-)

    If males are taller than females, then, by very definition, tallness in women is a ‘masculine’ trait! I think you are trying to say is that tall women do not look like men, with which we would totally agree.

    Dear Toni,
    Why do you think that this study promotes tall=superior? This interpretation could only be formed if you had the inherent (sexist) view that interest in children is inferior to interest in a career.

    Dear TeenageCatGirls,
    Please refer to my general comment at the beginning (“many anecdotes don’t make data”).

    Finished..Phew!
    Ok, so if anyone would like any further information about our study, please do email me at mjls@st-and.ac.uk . If you would like to read our actual studies on the subject, here are the full references.

    Deady DK, Law Smith MJ (In press) Height in women predicts maternal tendencies and career orientation. Personality and Individual Differences.

    Deady DK, Law Smith MJ, Sharp MA, Al-Dujaili EAS (In press) Maternal personality and reproductive ambition in women is associated with salivary testosterone levels. Biological Psychology.

    Best wishes,
    Miriam Law Smith

  45. d.e.i.x.i.s.

    And just in case we didn’t see it here, you had to email us all.

    That was scary.

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