When I first started cycling and made the decision to purchase an actual road bike, I walked into the bike shop blissfully unaware about what I needed. All I knew was that I required something with curved handle bars and skinny wheels. I walked out with a women’s specific frame (size small) that was fitted with a 110mm stem and 42 cm handlebars.
A few years later when I moved from touring to racing and began looking at actual race frames, I quickly learned that I should have and could have felt quite a bit different on the bike. I was constantly shifting around, shrugging my shoulders and stretching my back to get comfortable. Just because I was a small woman did not mean the woman’s small bike was a good match. With narrow shoulders and a short torso (I’m 5’5) I found a shorter stem and handle bars to be much more comfortable and effective for my riding. For my next bike, my seat post was raised and my stem dropped.
Read more here: http://www.dailypeloton.com/displayarticle.asp?pk=14282