Coming up short...
Megan McCardle has a post about women who won't date shorter guys. Despite the fact that she starts out discussing a women who will only date short guys, she blames it on the guys, saying that it's mostly that guys don't want to date women taller than them.
As a short guy, I disagree. First of all, guys tend to be less picky about who they date or are willing to date than women - I can't find the study despite several seconds of googling, but I remember a while back an economist studied speed daters and found women tended to want to meet 25% of guys they talked to, while men wanted to meet 50% - what made the study interesting was that those percentages stayed the same even if the quality of the potential dates changed. I mean, lets face it - there is a considerable number of guys who will pretty much date anything that moves, so it seems unlikely that guys are going to pass up an attractive woman because they are taller than them - unless they have a really good reason.
While it's not scientific, I've known women in the real world who refuse to date guys shorter than them, and I've seen plenty of profiles on online dating sites with women who say the same thing.
Which brings me to my theory - if guys generally date women who are their height or shorter, and avoid women who are considerably taller, it's not necessarily because of their preferences but rather as a response to women's preferences. If you are a guy, and you notice that women who are taller than you almost always turn you down, you are going to tend to gravitate towards women shorter or of similar height than you, because you figure you have a better shot at them. I know I do - if I'm looking at a profile on an online dating site, and I'm on the fence if it's someone worth contacting, and I notice that they are short, it will usually make me more willing to give them a shot - because every woman who I've gone past email to phone or an actual meeting has been my height or shorter. Which, granted, is a very small subset, but still...
Which brings up the second question - if it really is women who are refusing to date shorter men, should they be? As a short guy, it doesn't thrill me that a large subset of the population of single women refuses to date me based on a physical characteristic that I can't control - I mean, there are so many other, better reasons not to date me. Then again, I certainly have certain physical characteristics I prefer in women - some of which are under their control (like weight) and some of which aren't (age, race).
So I guess the best I can do is ask women to at least consider thinking about looking at shorter guys - maybe accept a date with one, or turn down the "height" section in search if you use an online dating site. Maybe you'll meet someone really cool who you wouldn't have met otherwise, and will decide that that outweighs the height factor. Maybe you'll decide that you were right and height is important to you.