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Does Testosterone Influence A Woman's Career Choice?

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 12:24 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Women, Business, Testosterone, Careers, Risks


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockphoto / author: aldomurillo

A new study finds women with higher levels of testosterone are more likely to pursue financially riskier careers and make riskier decisions.

The first of its kind, the study explored how testosterone affects financial risk-taking differently in men and women.

Dubbed the male sex hormone, testosterone occurs in both men and women, but at higher levels in men. The hormone has long been associated with dominance, risky behaviors such as gambling and competitiveness.

For the study, researchers tested the saliva of 500 MBA students – male and female - at the U-Chicago’s Booth School. The students also took part in an experiment to determine the association between testosterone levels and risk aversion.

Overall, men had higher levels of testosterone and were more likely to choose the riskier option compared to the women. But, women with higher levels of testosterone were nearly seven times more likely to take risks than women with lower hormone levels.

On the other hand, there was no difference in risk-taking between those with relatively low levels of testosterone – 90 percent of women and 31 percent of men.

“The findings have significant implications as to how the effects of testosterone can impact actual risk-taking within financial markets,” says Luigi Zingales, one of the study’s authors. “Moreover, the findings could help to highlight gender differences in career choices. Future studies should further explore the mechanisms through which testosterone affects the brain.”

The study appears in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). #

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