Male scientist are good at research because they have the hormone levels of women and long index fingers, a new study says.
A survey of academics at the University of Bath has found that male scientists typically have a level of the hormone oestrogen as high as their testosterone level. These hormone levels are more usual in women than men, who normally have higher levels of testosterone.
The study draws on research which suggests that these unusual hormone levels in many male scientists cause the right side of their brains, which governs spatial and analytic skills, to develop strongly.
The study drew on work in the last few years which established that the levels of oestrogen and testosterone a person has can be seen in the relative length of their index (second) and ring (fourth) fingers. The ratio of the lengths is set before birth and remains the same throughout life.
The length of fingers is genetically linked to the sex hormones, and a person with an index finger shorter than the ring finger will have had more testosterone while in the womb, and a person with an index finger longer than the ring finger will have had more oestrogen. The difference in the lengths can be small – as little as two or three per cent – but important.
A survey of the finger lengths of over 100 male and female academics at the University by senior Psychology lecturer Dr Mark Brosnan has found that those men teaching hard science like mathematics and physics tend to have index fingers as long as their ring fingers, a marker for unusually high oestrogen levels for males. It also found the reverse: those male academics with longer ring fingers than index fingers – the usual male pattern – tended not to be in science but in social science subjects such as psychology and education.
A further study also suggests that prenatal hormone exposure, and hence index finger length, can also influence actual achievement levels. In a survey of male and female students on a JAVA programming course at the University, the researchers found a link between finger length ratio and test score. The smaller the difference between index and ring finger - the higher the test score at the end of the year. “The results are a fascinating insight into how testosterone and oestrogen levels in the womb can affect people’s choice of career and how these levels can show up in the length of fingers on our hands,” said Dr Brosnan.
“In the general population, men typically have higher levels of testosterone than women, but the male scientists at the University of Bath have lower testosterone levels than is usual for men – their oestrogen and testosterone levels tend to match those of women generally. “This research now suggests that lower than average testosterone levels in men lead to spatial skills that can give a man the ability to succeed in science. Other research has in the past also suggested that an unusually high level of testosterone can do the same thing by encouraging the development of the right hemisphere.
"This right brain development is at the expense of language abilities and people skills that men with a more usual level of testosterone develop and which can help them in social science subjects like psychology or education.” Dr Brosnan said that men having levels of testosterone very much higher than normal for males would also create the right hemisphere dominated brain which could help in science. The extremes of low testosterone and high testosterone for men would create the scientific brain, and the normal range in the middle would create the ‘social science’ brain, he said.
“The question also arises as to why more women, who have this lower level of testosterone, are not in science, which is male-dominated, with only one in 40 science professors being a woman. “The short answer is that we don’t know: the high levels of oestrogen in women may act differently on the brain and not give them the spatial skills that men with similar levels of the hormone have.
“Or their may be social reasons: science has been male-dominated the past and this may be putting women off entering it, even though they are able to. “Why male scientists should have fewer children is not known.
“The study of my colleagues at the University of Bath was also interesting in that it shows that women in social science tend to have a higher level of testosterone level relative to their oestrogen level, making their brains closer to those of men in general.”
Andrew McLaughlin | alfa
Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss has increased
14.06.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.
Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
21.06.2018 | Life Sciences
21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences