The XX Factor

Testosterone, the Enemy

New York magazine has a very interesting article this week called ” What if Women Ran Wall Street .” The article analyzes new research about testosterone and risk, which took on special significance after the market crash. Men, these researchers argue, are driven to make bad decisions because of testosterone surges. On the trading floor, these surges feed on each other during intense trading days (Sound familiar, ladies? Synchronized periods?) Competition and risk seeking get triggered, and boom: We have waves of irrational exuberance.

I have no idea if testosterone will ultimately prove to have that much influence on decision-making. But as a cultural marker, these studies sure are satisfying. For one thing, the old idea of men and markets on the side of the rational and women on the side of emotionalism takes a blow. For another, testosterone seems to be the new cultural hormone, and I look forward to the day a woman can say to her husband, “Honey, are you having one of your surges again?”

Photograph of Dick Fuld by Alex Wong/Getty Images News.