How Your Hormones May Have Chosen Your Career For You

It’s not all hot flushes and emotional rollercoasters, now your hormones might also have had an impact on your chosen career too.


A report in ‘Hormones & Behaviour’ seems to have proved that your sex hormones strongly influence your interests, and that – logically enough – will also affect what kind of career you will be drawn to.

It comes down to the fact that your hormones may dictate whether you are interested in working with things, as opposed to people.

This report by Adriene M. Beltz, graduate student in psychology, working with Sheri A. Berenbaum, professor of psychology and pediatrics, at Penn State University says that although it is too simplistic to say that this is a male/female divide but rather a bias to those with higher androgen levels.

A preference for ‘things’ or ‘people’

The researchers studied teenagers and young adults with congenital adrenal hyperplasia – a genetic condition – and their siblings who do not have CAH. People with CAH are exposed to more androgen – a type of male sex hormone – than is normal while in the uterus.

Women with CAH are genetically female but their interests tend to be more similar to stereotypically male ones. In other words they prefer ‘things’ to people. The researchers also found that career interests directly corresponded to the amount of androgen exposure the females with CAH experienced in the womb.

Those who were exposed to the most androgen in the uterus showed the most interest in things versus people, and vice versa.

This difference in career choice did not seem to apply to the males in the study group as there was no significant difference reported between men with CAH and those without the condition.

The researchers asked the participants to rate each item in a list of 64 occupations, according to whether they would like, dislike or were indifferent to doing that job. This list and the categories are based on a well-established and validated system often used by vocational counsellors.

The occupations were grouped into six categories of careers – realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional.

Realistic or Artistic?

If you were wondering where you, your career, and your hormones fit into all of this, then the realistic and investigative categories reflect thing-oriented careers like farmer and scientist, social and artistic categories reflect people-oriented jobs such as teacher and artist, and the enterprising category was in the middle with occupations like realtor and hotel manager.

So if you always felt you were in the wrong job, blame your hormones!

Helpful information:

As someone who has spent at least some of her life wondering if I was in the right career or not, I know how stressful that can be. Stress impacts your hormones, in my case Niagara-type sweats during the day, so if that is something bothering you then there are a number of steps you can take.

First try to reduce or eliminate it by finding ways to deal with by identifying when it occurs. Then take some action, whether that is counselling, talking to a friend or identifying the problem so you can begin to tackle it. Next diet and exercise are key, so reduce the stimulants like caffeine, sugar and alcohol and find something pleasurable you can do that will release the endorphins that will make you feel better. It doesn’t have to be energetic as such, dancing, gardening, yoga and tai chi could all fit the bill.