Is 5’2″ Short for a Woman or a Man? (Revealed)


Most women and men seem to desire being taller. Whether it’s because of societal pressures or quality of life, it is debatable. Given all that, is 5 feet 2 inches short for a woman or a man?

Being 5’2″ is short for a woman or a man in the United States. Since the average American woman is 5’4″ and the average American male is 5’9″, five feet two inches is exceptionally short for US males. However, being considered short at 5’2″ varies around the world because average heights vary.

As a 5’2″ American woman, this question is quite personal to me. I admit I’ve yet to meet an American male eye to eye, but they exist apparently, albeit uncommonly. In this article, I’ll use what I’ve learned in my own experiences as well as from my research on the topic to share with you all things about being 5 feet 2 inches.

What is a short height?

It’s pretty common to think about height, whether it’s taking in the description of someone we’ve just met or thinking about our children as they grow. We all have an idea of what it means to be short (or tall), but what does that really mean? What is a standard meaning for short height?

A short height is standard in its meaning of being two or more inches (or 5.08 centimeters for non-Americans) below the average height for males or females in a particular geographic region. Because being short (or tall) is directly connected to geographic height averages, the exact number varies.

The notion of being short for ones peer group often connotes negativity, which is why some parents are overly concerned with their children’s height and rate of growth. But in actuality, that’s not always proven the case.

A 2004 study in Pediatrics denounced perceived problems for shorter youths; it concluded no substantial social issues or negative ramifications for peers considered ‘short.’ Most issues, they found, show up in early elementary school and then dissipate as children grow and enter adulthood, presumably feeling more confident in their skin (and stature).

However, it should also be recognized that other studies disagree. For instance, a 2010 Australian study found that short people in the workplace face discrimination with hiring, promotions, and wage earnings. If true, this certainly amounts to substance of concern.

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What is a short height in the US?

Let’s look at what it means to be short in the US and then later, how does being 5 feet 2 inches stack up to that.

In the US short women are 5 feet 2 inches or below and men are 5 feet 7 inches or below. This is directly tied to average US heights for males and females. Average US females are 5’4″ and males are 5’9″. For one to be unusually short (or tall), he or she needs to be about double the deviation.

I can only speak from my own experiences, however. At 5’2″, my height is regularly commented on by people close to me as well as strangers.

It’s noticeable when I can’t reach items on half the grocery stores shelves or if I’m driving and must use the shortest setting on the seat in order to reach the steering wheel and pedals reasonably. But I know that my height isn’t all that unusual either…for a woman, that is.

In my line of work as a teacher, I’m often the shortest in the adult crowd, but I have company too. I have had many female co-workers at my height and even a few an inch or two shorter.

Though I’ve been taken aback a few times upon meeting shorter than average males on the job. I am immediately aware when this happens because it’s one of the few times I find myself not having to look ‘up’ when talking to an adult. Yet, not one male was eye-to-eye.

‘Short males’ I’ve encountered are at minimum 5 feet 4 inches, which by US males standards is quite petite.

What is a short height around the world?

US male and female averages are not the tallest averages in the world, nor are they the shortest. Let’s look at what is considered short height around the world, and how 5’2″ compares to that.

Countries with the shortest heights around the world have male averages of 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 4 inches, so a 5’2″ male is still slightly below average around the world. For females, countries with the shortest averages are at 5 feet and below, so a 5’2″ female might even be considered tall.

Countries with the shortest male and female averages:

  • For males (averages below 5’5″)- Papua New Guinea; Solomon Islands, Laos, and Timor-Leste
  • For females (averages at 5ft and below)-Laos; Madagascar; Timor-Leste; Nepal; Bangladesh; and Guatemala

Again, what’s considered ‘short’ in any country is strongly tied to the average heights for the region. Thus, you must know the averages or means for the area before you can compare 5’2″.

This means a person could be short in one country but when he or she travels or moves to another country, they could be average or even tall. For instance, an Estonian male at 5’10” is considered short since males average 6’1″ there. Yet, he’d be extremely tall in Timor-Leste where 5’2″ is almost average.

Here’s a table for comparison to how a 5’2″ woman and man would rate in some random countries around the world.

CountryMale Average HeightA 5’2″ Male? Female Average Height A 5’2″ Female?
Bolivia5’6″ (168.10cm)short5’1″ (155.58cm)above average
Britain 5’10” (178.21cm)very short5’4.5″(163.94cm)short
Egypt5’9″ (174.57cm)very short 5’3″ (160.88cm)average
India5’5.5″ (166.50cm) short 5’1″ (155.18cm) above average
Ireland
5’10” (179.04cm)
very short
5’5″ (164.50cm)
short
Mexico5’7″ (170.29cm)very short5’2″ (157.90cm)average
Pakistan5’6″ (167.33cm)short5’1″(154.77cm) above average
Russia5’9.5″ (176.65cm)very short
5’5″ (164.52cm)
short
Yemen5’5″ (164.42cm)short5’1″ (154.76cm) above average
Table of Average Heights of Random Countries Around the World and How a 5’2″ person would rate living there

A related article to read is: What Is Considered Short For A Woman?

Is 5 feet 2 inches short for a woman?

This is a picture of my husband and me in Salzburg, Austria; it’s also an excellent illustration of my 5 feet 2 inch height in comparison to his 6 feet 1 inch frame.

Okay, so now let’s consider how 5’2″ rates for women in general, after looking at height averages for US women, as well as women across the world.

Women at 5’2″ are considered short in 89 countries around the world. Twenty-seven countries have female averages below 5’2″; thirty-two countries have averages right at 5 feet 2 inches for women; and 52 countries have averages of 5’3″, where a 5’2″ woman isn’t really considered short.

How does a 5’2″ woman compare in some countries?

  • Countries where a 5’2″ woman is tall: Guatemala, Bangladesh, Nepal, Timor-Leste, Madagascar, and Laos
  • Countries where a 5’2″ woman is average: Rwanda, Liberia, Malaysia, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Japan
  • Countries where a 5’2″ woman is considered short: Mali, Spain, Italy, Israel, and Brazil
  • Countries where a 5’2″ woman is considered very short: Denmark, Netherlands, Latvia, Estonia, and Sweden

Is 5ft 2in short for a 16-year-old female?

Again consideration of short for any female (or male) is contingent upon where she lives because you must take into account average or mean heights for the area. But we can look at generalizations of what’s short taking into account data for countries.

A 5’2″ sixteen-year-old female would rank for height the same as any adult 5’2″ female because at 16 years old, she has probably reached her maximum height. This means she is considered short in about 89 countries around the world; average in 32 countries; and above average in about 27 countries.

From a personal standpoint it means if I traveled to Guatemala when I was 16 years old, I’d be thought of as tall! To Spain, I’d be short like here in my native US; and to Sweden, I’d be looked at as very, very short.

Is 5ft 2in short for a 12-year-old girl?

Now thinking about girls at age 12 who’ve reached 5’2″ is a bit trickier. This is due to not all girls having entered puberty at this point.

Whether or not a 12-year-old girl is considered short at 5’2″ depends upon the country of living for the most part. In the US, the average girl is 5 feet at this age according to the CDC, so 5’2″ is slightly above average.

However, because girls can enter puberty as early as 8 or as late as 13, the adult height for a 5’2″ twelve-year-girl can still vary.

In my experience, I’ve found that 12-year-old girls in the US standing at 5’2″ is pretty average. As a public school teacher, I’ve taught many kids of this age and most are actually right around my height (boys having not entered puberty yet for the most part). Since I’m 5’2″ this means most girls would generally be about my height. The few taller than me already ranked above average for their age/sex, and even some as tall for an adult woman. Girls who were at my height at this age (or slightly below) could feasibly grow a bit taller, maybe making average height for adult US women. It’s also possible they’d remain at 5’2″, making them short for US women. The deciding factor here being whether or not they had entered puberty by age 12.

What does puberty have to do with a 12-year-old girl who’s 5 feet 2 inches?

  • If she entered puberty early, then more than likely she won’t grow after 12. This means if she lives in the US, she’s likely to be short. If she is 5’2 at age 12 in Guatemala, though, she’s tall even if she doesn’t grow any more.
  • If she just entered puberty, she’s average or above average for her age now, depending upon her country, and will grow taller. In the US, she’ll probably be considered average or above average by the end of puberty. In Norway or Montenegro, she’ll likely be thought short or just above it.
  • If she hasn’t even entered puberty at 12 years old and is 5’2″ tall already, she is definitely tall for her age in the US and many other countries. It also means once she enters puberty at probably 13 or 14 years old and has her growth spurt, she will grow taller, ending up above average for an adult female in the US.
  • Regardless of puberty, a 12-year-old female at 5 feet 2 inches is likely to be considered short by the time she enters adulthood in the world’s tallest countries like Finland and Netherlands. Twelve-year-old females in these countries are usually taller than 5’2″.

All of this, of course, is conditional upon her health and quality of life being adequate for maintaining a normal growth rate.

Is 5 feet 2 inches short for a man?

What does it mean, then, to be a 5’2″ male around the world? Is he short for most countries?

Men at 5’2″ are considered quite short around the world. Only four countries have averages anywhere near 5’2″, meaning males at 5’2″ would be about average or slightly below average there. Thus, in at least 196 other countries, males at 5’2″ are short or very short.

How does a 5’2″ man compare in some random countries?

  • Countries where a 5’2″ man is not short (or just below average): Timor-Leste, Laos, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea
  • Countries where a 5’2″ man is considered short: Yemen, Bangladesh, Philippines, Cambodia, and Rwanda
  • Countries where a 5’2″ man is considered very short: US, Denmark, Germany, Russia, and Sweden
  • Countries where a 5’2″ man is looked as very, very short: Netherlands; Montenegro; Estonia; Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Iceland

You may also like to read: What Is Considered Tall For A Man? (Explained)

Is 5ft 2in short for a 16-year-old male?

As I’ve said before, consideration of short for any person (male or female) is contingent upon where he lives due to the fact that height is strongly connected to averages or means for countries or regions. But generalizations can still be made by drawing reasonable conclusions using the data we have.

At 5’2″ sixteen-year-old males are considered short. Most 16-year-old males have completed puberty, if not close. Even if they gain another 2-3 inches in the next few years, they still will be below most adult male averages worldwide, so a 5’2″ teenage boy is short by just about anyone’s standards.

In fact, according to the CDC, fifty percent of US boys at 16 years old are 69 inches tall, or 5’9″. This is the average US male height, by the way. Fewer than 5 percent of US boys at this age are 5’2″.

Let’s think about a male’s entering puberty late, though. What effect does this have on his potential for shortness? (It’s entirely possible that a boy will not enter puberty until his 16th birthday, but unlikely, to be clear).

If he just entered puberty at 16 and has a growth spurt of 4 inches over the next two years, he’d be 5’6″ as an adult male. From this perspective, he’d still be considered short by a minimum of 60 percent of countries around the world. And very short for many of those!

Is 5 feet 2 inches short for a 12-year-old boy?

There’s a big difference in comparing 12-year-old boys and girls who are both 5’2″. This is because boys enter puberty at a later age than girls, probably why tween and teen girls talk about how immature boys are at their same age!

Average 12-year-old boys in the US are 4’10” according to 2010 CDC growth charts, so 5’2″ twelve-year-old boys are slightly above average or tall for their age. Because boys enter puberty between 10-15 years old, height at 12 doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be a short, tall, or average adult.

What does puberty have to do with a 12-year-old boy who’s 5 feet 2 inches?

  • If he entered puberty early, which means around age 10 according to Healthline, then more than likely he won’t grow a whole lot more after 12. Let’s say he’s 5’5 in the US eventually, then he’d be considered short.
  • If he just entered puberty at 12, a middle range for puberty for boys, then he’s likely to grow several more inches still and will be taller than 5’2″ at adulthood, perhaps as much as 5’8″.
  • If he doesn’t enter puberty til the late end at 15 or 16, and he’s 5’2″ at 12, then he could 5’4″ or taller at onset of puberty. Factor in puberty’s growth spurt, and this young man might end up tall at adulthood by many country’s standards.

Just like with girls, growth rate for males is conditional upon health and quality of life to meet one’s maximum potential in height.

When is it a problem to be 5 feet 2 inches?

One common problem with being 5ft 2in deals with driving, or more specifically, driving vehicles made for people much taller.

Being short, or uncommon, lends itself to problems, naturally. Depending on the amount of deviation, problems can be ‘big or small’, pun intended!

Short people encounter problems with day to day life, but the gravity of the issue is connected with the amount of difference from average, as well as one’s own ability to handle being outside the norm. There are also some associations with height and health that are worthy for consideration.

Being a 5’2″ woman the biggest problems I face from my height daily are just inconveniences. For instance, I struggle to reach about half of the items I need for cooking, cleaning, and so on. However, it’s nothing a stepstool (or teenage son) can’t accommodate!

For the workplace, however, I can see that being 5’2″ a bit more of a detriment, especially for males. As a woman who taught almost 20 years from elementary to high school, the biggest obstacle from my height was being taken seriously. If I were a man, I imagine this would be an even greater struggle!

However, this is also connected to where I live, in the US. Being 5’2″ in countries with shorter average heights would not stand out as much, even though 5’2″ is still short for males.

Well-Known 5 feet 2 Inch People

In 2017 Netlfix and singer/performer Lady GaGa released a mini-documentary about a piece of her life, titled FIVE FOOT TWO.

An interested relation to this article is the documentary by Lady GaGa and Netflix about, well, Lady GaGa. It being titled 5 Foot Two has to in some way demonstrate an impact her height has had on her life, even though it’s not at all about her height.

Other celebrities who happen to be measured at 5’2″: Camila Cabello; Nicki Minaj; Lisa Bonet; Zoe Kravitz (Bonet’s daughter); Kamala Harris; Shakira; Melissa McCarthy; Anna Kendrick; Linda Ronstadt; Haile Selassie; Mickey Rooney; Angus Young; and Kevin Hart.

It’s certainly no surprise that it’s easier to find female celebrities who are 5’2″ than males.

Other articles about height include:

The Takeaway for 5’2″ Short Woman or Man

To sum it all up, being a 5’2″ adult is short for the most part in any country around the world. It is especially short for males.

Because the onset of puberty varies from boys to girls as well as within the gender, being 5’2″ at twelve or sixteen years old doesn’t necessarily mean being short, either.

As well, just like for men and women of any height, being considered short, average, or tall truly depends upon one’s country of living. For comparison, it’s necessary to know the average or mean heights of the area.

Additional resource: Kids Health; World Population Review

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a Catholic mother of four, grandmother ("Oma") to two, and wife to Mat since 1994. She is a former public school teacher of 18 years, licensed in 3 states and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. In addition, she also taught education courses online as an adjunct professor, mentored numerous education interns, hosted professional development for educators, and tutored, as well as homeschooled.

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