MADRID (Reuters) – Shorter women will be able to join Spain’s police forces after the country’s top court ruled on Monday that a minimum height requirement for female officers is discriminatory.
The court scrapped the 1.60 metre (5 ft 3 inch) height requirement in a ruling on a case filed by a young woman who was barred from taking her selection tests in 2017 because she was 4 cm shorter than the required minimum.
The requirement “constitutes an indirect discrimination against women compared to men whose required height (1.65 metre) is much less demanding, since the percentage of women (in Spain) below the threshold (25%) is much higher than the percentage of men (3%),” a court document said.
Provided the plaintiff passes her exams, the court ordered the police to employ the woman and give her the same pay seniority as the women who were admitted in 2017.
According to a world survey conducted by Imperial College in London, the average height of 19-year-old Spanish men was 1.76 metres in 2019, while women the same age were on average 1.62 metres tall. Spanish men ranked 58th tallest out of 200 countries and territories, while women ranked 77th.
The court said the national police provided no justification for limiting access to job seekers based on their height.
The process of selection for police officers includes physical and medical tests which guarantee the candidates are fit enough to comply with the job, the court said.
“Within the police structure, there are many functions that require no special physical condition and even less a tall stature,” the court said.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro, editing by Andrei Khalip and Susan Fenton)