The evolutionary scientist on her in-depth study on women’s hormones and their effects
Your book is all about reproductive hormones, and their impact on our behaviour. It only focuses on female hormones. Why not look at men’s too?
Two reasons. One is that the focus of research in my lab is to look at women’s hormones. The other is that I think there are problems with how people have viewed hormones and women, and I really want to debunk those myths, then pursue some of the implications for further exploring links between women’s hormones and their behaviour. I think they are really important for women’s wellbeing.
You say that some people, including women, have pushed back against discussing the influence of hormones. Why is that?
I get a strong sense that if you ascribe a woman’s behaviour to biology, people will automatically think that women are automatons, driven by their hormones and unable to regulate their own behaviour. That is false. There is a female stereotype, whereby any time a woman does something a little bit difficult to understand, then it is hormones that make women “irrational”. But nobody says that about men. For that reason, those who are concerned about women achieving equality with men worry that if we talk about women and hormones, then people will say such things as women shouldn’t hold higher office and so on. That’s silly, because men have hormones, too.
Martie Haselton: ‘Hormones don’t make us crazy or irrational’