Feb. 12, 2009 -- When congressional leaders addressed the heads of eight major banks Wednesday to grill them on their role in creating the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, they were looking at a table full of men.
In fact, of America's largest 500 publicly traded companies, only 13 are led by a female CEO, according to a report by USA Today.
Because it was men who dominated the financial industry before its monumental fall, some medical experts are looking to biology to learn more about how gender could be to blame -- as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof put it, "would we have been better off had it not been Lehman Brothers, if it had been Lehman Brothers and Sisters?"
John Coates, a researcher at Cambridge University, decided to find out by testing the saliva of 17 financial traders in eight days. He discovered that there could be a chemical connection between gender and financial decision-making.
"We found that testosterone was going up when these guys made a lot of money," Coates told "Good Morning America." "They are very short-term thinkers. They have very fast reactions and women seem to be better at putting together a larger picture."
Dr. Judy B. Rosener, of the University of California, Irvine, said that it is because a hormone called oxycocin causes women to react more cautiously and evaluate stress.
"That is the hormone that is secreted when women are pregnant and it is the kind of hormone that says 'let's make everything work together, let's get together,'" Rosener said.
Gender Mix Could Be Best
USA Today, which annually examines the performance of major companies led by women, reported that in 2003 and in 2004 "female CEOs so out-performed men... that it looked like there might be something to that gender advantage, or at least something to the theory that the glass ceiling was so difficult to crack that the women who made it to the top were more talented than their male counterparts."
Rough financial years for women in 2005 and a desperate year for all in 2008 have tampered the theory of gender advantage, but many experts agree that a woman's impact in the office is generally an advantage.
Generally, a company with a collaboration of female and male leaders will outperform a company that relies on single-sex leadership, Rosener told USA Today.
"It's having the Lehman Brothers and Sisters out there and having that more diverse group means that you are not going to have a herd going over the cliff," Kristof told "GMA."