It’s not something you come across in most developed countries, although many professions have some common sense height restrictions. However in China, discrimination due to height is quite open and expected. Take the situation of two security guards in Dalian in North East China, one man was two inches taller than the other and hence received more money. The reasoning was that the taller guard made people feel more secure due to his height, basically if you’re over 180 cms tall (about 5 ‘9″) you’ll get a premium tall rate.
Now you could argue that increase height in a physical job like a security guard is acceptable, however it doesn’t stop there in China. Height requirements are routinely specified in all sorts of careers – want to study tourism and hotel management in Huaqiao University? Well you’ll need to be over 170cms tall for a man and 158cms for a women. A company in Beijing is advertising for cleaners, who must be female over 162 cms tall. Even if the job doesn’t specifiy this, many people (particularly tall ones!) will put their height on their CV, something that wouldn’t happen in most Western countries.
It’s difficult to see some of these adverts and job advertisements even the ones online due to the heavy restrictions in Chinese internet access. You can get reasonable access if you find a reputable security or VPN provider which will at least bypass the content filtering – try this for information.
There have been several studies and most have found that height has a large effect on salary expectations particularly for women. One study found that each centimetres above average will add about 2% to the women’s salary – the difference rises esepcially on higher salary scales. Currently there is no legislation at all preventing this sort of discrimination although several Universities are working on some draft legislation to prevent discrimination based on physical characteristics like height.
One of the big problems here is that this sort of discrimination is increasing divisions in what is already a society with many social and economic divisions. The overall height of Chinese is rising greatly in tandem with the increase in economic prosperity. This however is much marked in richer areas, where increased living standards and better nutrition mean people are generally taller. Thus the richer groups are benefiting more and already large inequalities are growing larger.