Hormones drive women to success

Laura Mappas
Monday, May 5, 2008
Image: Getty

Researchers say the hormone oestrogen fuels feelings of power and competition in women, the same way testosterone does in men.

Steps to success
In a related study, conducted earlier this month, British researchers reported that male financial traders made more money when their testosterone levels were at their highest. Now, this recent study, led by Steven Stanton from the University of Michigan in the USA, claims high oestrogen levels in women may have the same effect.

In the study, oestrogen levels shot up in competitive women when they won, but plummeted when they lost. The opposite was true for women who appeared less interested in power.

"The biology of dominance in women has been vastly under-researched," says Stanton. "On top of that, [the study] sets up very nice parallels with men and testosterone."

A power play
The study also found that oestrogen was linked to personality type. So what type of woman is more likely to make a play for power and success? Stanton says power-motivated women are more likely to be young, single and not taking the contraceptive pill.

"To sum up, we have found that oestradiol [oestrogen] and a non-conscious need for dominance are positively related in women," he said. "The higher the [women's levels of] oestrogen, the higher they were in the measure of power motivation," Stanton says of the mostly 20-something study group.

The results were almost the complete opposite for those women who weren't driven by the desire for power and dominance. "Those who were not power-motivated, if they won, their oestrogen went down," adds Stanton. "If they lost, their oestrogen went up a little bit."

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