Alpha Women: Physically and Emotionally Different.
Look at your right hand. Measure and compare the lengths of your index and ring finger.
Human development research suggests that the degree of difference is determined by how
much testosterone you were exposed to as a baby developing in the womb. The longer your
ring finger compared to your index finger, thegreater the exposure to testosterone.
In men, the difference is obvious, but the degree of difference varies between men. Research
has shown that those with the largest difference will tend to be more athletic and competitive,
have higher libido, and be inclined to more aggressive, single minded, self centred behaviour.
The term Alpha male is often used when referring to these men because theytend to behave
like their monkey cousins: aggressively dominating other men and promiscuous with women.
Some species of monkeys and apes live in communities of family groupings with a strict
hierarchy of power between the males. The biggest strongest male claims and gets mating
rights to all the females that take his fancy. The other males have a miserable time on the
outskirts of the troopgrabbing sexual favours when they can from the rejected females.
Behaviourists observing this power structure thought that it may be related to differing levels
of testosterone amongst the males. They called the most dominant males, the Alpha males.
To test this theory they injected the low status males with testosterone. All hell broke out in
the monkey cage as these testosterone empowerednobodies no longer accepted their lot and
started to challenge and fight the lead male.
It appears that testosterone has similar effects in humans. There is a strong association
between levels of testosterone, libido, and aggressive risk taking behaviour. This is true for
men and women, although the amount of testosterone produced by the ovaries is minute
compared to that produced by the testesin men.
In humans different levels of pre-natal exposure to testosterone appear to determine the
relative degree of masculine/feminine neural hard wiring of the brain. Prenatal testosterone
exposure also appears to determine sex partner orientation: heterosexual or homosexual. The
testosterone exposure appears to be overwhelmingly determined by the embryo. However
boys with older brotherstend to show greater prenatal exposure to testosterone and are more
likely to be homosexual, suggesting that the “memory” in a mother’s womb of the sex of
previous pregnancies can have some influence.
For most women the ring and index fingers will be close to the same length. But some women
will have an obvious and significant difference. It appears that women who were exposed to
higher levelsof testosterone during pre-natal development have longer ring fingers. Although
heterosexual, these women have brains that are neurologically wired to think like men.
Like all men, this small percentage of women can have wet dreams, are task focused,
competitive, emotionally self sufficient and can compartmentalise their emotional life. They
tend to be self centred and much more aggressive thanother women. They are more likely to
actively pursue power and status in their own right and take risks. Although they enjoy
Copyright Louise Samways 2004 2
recognition and approval they don’t necessarily need it. Compared to other women, they are
much less likely to seek approval from either parents or peers.
To understand how and why these women are different and how that affects theirbehaviour
and relationships, we need to first understand why there are general differences in the brains
of men and women. However the differences are far more interesting and complex than many
recent books have suggested.
The commonly cited differences are obvious even in newborn babies. At birth girls have
dramatically more connections between the left and right sides of their brains. The...