Gender: A Wider Lens
Gender: A Wider Lens
36 - Talking Testosterone with Carole Hooven

36 - Talking Testosterone with Carole Hooven

Carole Hooven, Ph.D., is lecturer and co-director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She earned her Ph.D. at Harvard, studying sex differences and testosterone, and has taught there ever since. Hooven has received numerous teaching awards, and her popular Hormones and Behavior class was named one of the Harvard Crimson’s “top ten tried-and-true.”

In this episode, Stella and Sasha talk to Carole about her new book, Testosterone, which explores the powerful impact this sex hormone has on the human body. This discussion revolves around a central theme: to make the world a better place, we must be willing to understand the harsh realities of our mammalian nature and take into account the biological drives behind our behavior.


Carole Hooven:


Carole’s Book:

Carole’s Link Tree:

Stella’s Review:  

Katie Herzog’s piece in Barri Weiss’s substack: 

Extended Notes

  • A little bit about Carole and her experience.

  • Carole talks about her book, T: The Story of Testosterone, The Hormone That Dominates and Divides Us.

  • When Carole was in Uganda studying chimps, she always knew that if she was working with only females, her day would be pretty relaxed. It’s when the males came to play, however, that she had a full day on her hands.

  • Carole witnessed a male chimp viciously and brutally beat a female chimp who wanted nothing more than to protect her child. It was shocking to watch.

  • Carole breaks down the importance of testosterone and estrogen in our bodies.

  • Males resolve conflict much more quickly than females. There is a reason why there is a hierarchy and it benefits the entire pack to know who’s who.

  • What did Carole discover when she interviewed a wide variety of people going through testosterone procedures?

  • Carole found some fascinating things. People who were living as biological women and hated being objectified, now transitioned into men, found themselves having urges to objectify women.

  • Our nurture can be significantly modeled. The power of our environment can shape our nature.

  • What is CAH and why do women who have this tend to have more male-oriented positions?

  • Just witness how boys vs. girls play with one another. There is a reason for this act in play between the sexes. This crosses all cultures and is even witnessed in animals.

  • Carole shares her insights about gay men and their sexual patterns.

  • Knowledge is power. Carole is passionate about this because it’s important to know how we work on a biological level. We think if we can solve the patriarchy, sexual assault will go away, but there’s something much deeper to this.

  • Carole tried to clarify the importance of scientific language and why it’s important that we’re accurate in our languaging. Someone within Carole’s department thought this was transphobic.

  • Just because people are pushing back on what languaging Carole chooses to use, we cannot deny that biology is still biology.

  • We cannot pretend that the hormones we use have no real impact and that they’re interchangeable. They’re not. We have them for a reason.

This podcast is partially sponsored by ReIME, Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics:

Learn more about our show:

Gender: A Wider Lens
Gender: A Wider Lens
In this podcast, now in its fourth year, therapists Stella O'Malley and Sasha Ayad take a deep dive into the psychological and cultural forces impacting the social changes around "gender." Through interviews with researchers, doctors, therapists, parents, detransitioners, and others, Sasha and Stella's podcast is a "must listen" for anyone trying to navigate the current gender landscape. With their sharp analytical minds and deep compassionate hearts, Stella and Sasha have also become known throughout many parent networks as lighthouses in the midst of some very stormy seas. Previous guests include Helen Joyce, Jesse Singal, Leor Sapir, Kathleen Stock, Jamie Reed, Peter Boghossian and more.