Under the Hood

Women Are Not Better At Multitasking Than Men, Study Claims

Women are not better than men at multitasking. That is according to a new study that explored women’s ability to handle multiple tasks at the same time and how their brains work when switching from one activity to another. 

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, suggests that women's brains are not more efficient than men's when working on different tasks. It also debunked that common idea that women are better at noticing mess than men.

“Public opinion persists that women have a biological edge as super-efficient multitaskers,” Leah Ruppanner, associate professor in sociology at the University of Melbourne, said in an article for The Conversation. “But, as this study shows, this myth is not supported by evidence.”

She added that the society puts higher standards of cleanliness in women than in men, which led to the idea that female workers can better manage multiple tasks at the same time. However, Ruppanner said no one is good at multitasking. 

Such activity forces the brain to rapidly switch focus from one task to another. Previous research showed that the human brain is  not capable of taking multiple activities at once. 

“Particularly when two tasks are similar, they compete to use the same part of the brain, which makes multitasking very difficult,” Ruppanner added. “But human brains are good at switching between activities quickly, which makes people feel like they're multitasking. The brain, however, is working on one project at a time.”

For the latest study, researchers gathered 48 men and 48 women to test their multitasking capabilities. The tests involved identifying letters and numbers, focusing on two tasks at once and switching attention between tasks.

Results showed that multitasking affected how fast and accurate a person can complete tasks. Researchers found no difference between men and women. 

The study should encourage families, companies and the government to change the approach to giving tasks to women, Ruppanner pointed. She noted the findings come amid the growing acceptance of gender equality, equal sharing and co-parenting among men.

The industry should also change how it looks at women’s capability in the workplace. The assumption that women are better multitaskers could lead to more challenges at work and companies should stop giving responsibilities based on gender, according to Ruppanner.

Woman Researchers say women may not perform better than men when multitasking. Pixabay

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