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New study says sex hormones determine why you chose to be a Realtor

Hormones dictate your career choice?

To answer the age-old dilemma that young girls don’t typically gravitate toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers, Penn State set out to study if the reason is more genetic than cultural and their results had broader implications than simply why girls aren’t STEM-driven.

The researchers studied young adults and teens with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) a genetic condition that exposes a fetus to more androgen (a type of male sex hormone) than normal while in the uterus. Girls with CAH are still genetically female and are in no way male, but their interests are more in line with stereotypically male interests.

The team and also studied their siblings who did not have CAH to offer early opinion on the impact of sex hormones while in the womb.

Research reveals sex hormones impact career choices

The research revealed that girls with CAH were much more interested (than girls without CAH) in careers related to things rather than people and that career interests correspond directly to the amount of androgen exposure that CAH females experienced.

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While there was no difference in career interests between males with or without CAH, females that did not have CAH held a lower level of interest than males in occupations that relate to things (surgeon, engineer) and held a higher level of interest in careers focused on interacting with people (teachers, social workers), pointing out that stereotypically female careers are not just culturally based, but perhaps biological in nature.

Study of interests- what of Realtors?

Additionally, the researchers asked test subjects to rate a list of 64 occupations as to whether or not they would like that job. The occupations were grouped into six categories of careers:

  • Realistic and Investigative categories leaned toward thing oriented careers (scientists, farmers)
  • Social and Artistic categories leaned toward people oriented careers (artists, teachers)
  • Enterprising and Conventional categories were exactly in the middle of thing oriented careers and people oriented careers (hotel managers, realtors)

Given that the ratio of men and women in real estate is relatively equal and it is not drastically dominated by either sex, it makes sense that the Realtor career path is more neutral than say an engineer (higher androgen levels/male, thing oriented) or a social worker (lower androgen levels/female, people oriented).

What interests us about this study beyond Realtors being named as “in the middle,” is that androgen levels in the uterus could explain why some people in real estate perform extremely well in the people portion of the job and make clients feel front and center at all times while others struggle. It could explain biologically why some real estate professionals do extremely well building and using backend systems and others see it as garbled junk. Realtors are in the middle of people-oriented careers and thing-oriented careers and are enterprising and conventional. It is extremely interesting that biology could determine career interests and we look forward to future studies that could confirm this with higher levels of certainty.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Boise Idaho

    September 5, 2011 at 8:29 am

    My experience is that most agents are interested in a quick buck and joining the club than actually working.

  2. Bernice

    September 6, 2011 at 4:04 am

    So I have a lot of CAH..interesting. I wasn't always assertive, you learn that in Business. Now the building profession I can see the over abundance of CAH. Never did test my hormones though 😉 lol
    And for Boise Idaho's comment, Realtors work pretty damn hard, come join us for about 2 weeks. Trust me you'll be begging to go back to what ever job you had.

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